- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Federal Trade Commission renewed its antitrust case against Facebook on Thursday, filing an amended complaint in federal court after Judge James E. Boasberg dismissed its first complaint in June.

Judge Boasberg wrote in June that the FTC “failed to plead enough facts” to establish its case. The FTC said Thursday that its new complaint provides “detailed statistics” and “new direct evidence” of Facebook having the power to control prices or exclude competition, among other things.

The 80-page complaint filed in federal court alleges that Facebook has maintained monopoly power over the personal social networking services market “since at least 2011.”

“After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat,” said Holly Vedova, acting director of the FTC Bureau of Competition, in a statement. “This conduct is no less anticompetitive than if Facebook had bribed emerging app competitors not to compete. The antitrust laws were enacted to prevent precisely this type of illegal activity by monopolists.”

The new complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asserts that Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp to neutralize competitors.

Judge Boasberg previously scrapped a separate complaint making a similar argument. When Judge Boasberg dismissed the FTC’s earlier complaint against Facebook in June, he simultaneously dismissed a complaint brought against Facebook by attorneys general from 46 states plus the District of Columbia and Guam.

In dismissing the states’ complaint against Facebook, Judge Boasberg wrote that he thought the states had waited too long to challenge the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

“Although Defendant purchased Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, Plaintiffs’ suit — which seeks, in the main, to have Facebook divest one or both companies — was not filed until December 2020,” wrote Judge Boasberg in the June decision against the states’ case. “The Court is aware of no case, and Plaintiffs provide none, where such a long delay in seeking such a consequential remedy has been countenanced in a case brought by a plaintiff other than the federal government, against which laches does not apply and to which the federal antitrust laws grant unique authority as sovereign law enforcer.”

Facebook has until Oct. 4 to respond in court to the FTC’s amended complaint, according to the deadlines set by the court.

“We are reviewing the FTC’s amended complaint and will have more to say soon,” said Facebook on Twitter via its @fbnewsroom account. 

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