US judge throws out Facebook anti-trust lawsuits

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U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington on 28 june granted the social media giant’s demands to dismiss lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general in December. The dismissals, which came in a pair of rulings, came before any pre-trial proceedings had progressed. He said the FTC lawsuit was “legally insufficient” because he had not made enough allegations to substantiate the monopolization claims against Facebook. The judge, said the commission could try again and gave him 30 days to attempt to file an amended complaint.

This lawsuit had also sought to force Facebook to divest Instagram and WhatsApp. It related to Facebook’s acquisition of the two apps in 2012 and 2014. The news pushed Facebook’s stock up 4.2 percent, and the company passed $1 trillion in market capitalization for the first time. It is one of only half a dozen companies to reach such a valuation. The state suit was signed by attorneys general from 46 states and the District of Columbia and Guam. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and South Dakota did not join the case.

Facebook asked the court to dismiss both suits in March. The company argued that it was continually challenged with competition, including from new rivals such as TikTok. It also argued that the regulators had failed to prove how the services, which are free, harmed consumers. The judge’s dismissal of both suits, so early in process, stunned regulators and Facebook executives. Judge Boasberg said that the states did not provide “a reasonable justification” for why they had waited between six to eight years to decide to sue Facebook – an argument the social networking giant previously made.