State and Federal antitrust suits against Facebook are tossed by a judge

State and Federal antitrust suits against Facebook are tossed by a judge

Thanks to a ruling made today by a U.S. judge, Facebook’s market value exceeds $1 trillion dollars for the first time ever. The ruling from the judge, according to Reuters, tossed federal and state antitrust complaints against Facebook that could have forced the social media superstar into selling Instagram and WhatsApp. The judge ruled that the federal antitrust complaint against Facebook was “legally insufficient.”
The ruling was a big victory for Facebook and potentially for other big tech firms like Apple, Google, and Amazon who are considered anticompetitive by lawmakers. Congress says that these tech firms are abusing their market power. Apple, for example, forces companies to use its in-app payment platform and keeps 30% of revenue. Any developer that uses its own platform (like Epic Games tried to do) can be kicked out of the App Store.
The ruling was made by Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia who said that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was unable to prove that Facebook had monopoly power in the social-networking industry. The judge did say that the FTC could file a new complaint by July 29th.

Besides tossing both federal and state complaints, Judge Boasberg dropped a lawsuit filed by several U.S. states that waited too long to challenge Facebook’s August 2012 purchase of Instagram for $1 billion. That deal has turned out to be one of the best in tech history as Instagram is now valued at more than $100 billion. The Judge also banned the states from  investigating Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp in February 2014 for $19.5 billion.

Despite the rulings passed down by the judge, some of the states don’t feel that the game is over. Facebook had requested that the suits be dismissed and Judge Boadberg obliged, but a spokesman for the New York Attorney General’s office said that it was “considering our legal options.” Meanwhile, the judge stated that “Although the court does not agree with all of Facebook’s contentions here, it ultimately concurs that the agency’s complaint is legally insufficient and must therefore be dismissed.”

Republican Senator Josh Hawley, criticized the court’s decision on the FTC lawsuit as “deeply disappointing.” The Senator is one of the most outspoken members of Congress against big tech.

A Facebook spokesman said, “We are pleased that today’s decisions recognize the defects in the government complaints filed against Facebook.” On the other hand an FTC spokesperson said the agency was “closely reviewing the opinion and assessing the best option forward.” Facebook’s argument is that the FTC lacks the authority to seek relief against Facebook’s purchase of  Instagram and WhatsApp.

After the ruling was announced, Facebook’s shares soared over 4% or $14.27 to $355.64 giving the company a market value of $1.01 trillion.



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