Facebook gets slapped with another antitrust lawsuit in the U.S.
Facebook is by far the most popular social media network in the world, and its regular acquisitions of potential competitors cement its dominance. That dominance has come under scrutiny on more than one occasion, and now, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has filed a new antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant.
Notably, this is not the FTC’s first lawsuit to be filed against Facebook. The Commission’s last lawsuit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg back in June, as the agency failed to define the market that Facebook monopolized and failed to demonstrate it had authority to bring charges against the corporation. However, the Commission was given the opportunity to amend its initial complaint to address these issues, and today, the agency has refiled its suit.
In the amended complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (via CNBC), the FTC seeks to prevent what they see as anticompetitive conduct from Facebook in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” The complaint specifically calls out Facebook’s long-term strategy of buying up-and-coming competitors, its overwhelming dominance in personal social networking services in the U.S., its staggering profitability through “surveillance-based advertising”, its insulation from viable competition due to the high barriers to entry into social networking, and its “anticompetitive conditional dealing policies” designed to “[pull] the rug out from under firms perceived as competitive threats.”
Of course, we’ve heard all of these arguments before in the original lawsuit, and frankly none of what’s documented in this lawsuit should come as a surprise to anybody at this point. However, there’s a difference between what we feel is wrong and what’s actually illegal, and it’s up to courts to determine if any of the conduct described in the lawsuit violates U.S. antitrust law.
Facebook has until October 4th to formally respond to the complaint, but on Twitter, the company says it is “unfortunate” that the FTC has “chosen to continue this meritless lawsuit.” Here’s the full statement from the company:
“It is unfortunate that despite the court’s dismissal of the complaint and conclusion that it lacked the basis for a claim, the FTC has chosen to continue this meritless lawsuit. There was no valid claim that Facebook was a monopolist — and that has not changed. Our acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp were reviewed and cleared many years ago, and our platform policies were lawful. The FTC’s claims are an effort to rewrite antitrust laws and upend settled expectations of merger review, declaring to the business community that no sale is ever final. We fight to win people’s time and attention every day, and we will continue vigorously defending our company.”
This article was updated at 3:43 PM ET to include Facebook’s response.