Facebook Moves Court Against 2 Anti-Trust Cases Filed By US Govt

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Facebook has moved to court against two anti-trust cases brought on by the US government and 48 states against the platform for being engaged in an anti-competitive behavior by acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a group of state attorneys general filed separate lawsuits against Facebook in December last year, accusing the social network of anti-trust practices.

In two motions filed on Wednesday, Facebook asked the court to dismiss the antitrust lawsuits on the ground that such laws “are intended to promote competition and protect consumers” and “these complaints do not credibly claim that our conduct harmed either”.

“As we said when the FTC and the state attorneys general announced these lawsuits, people around the world use our products not because they have to, but because we make their lives better. Public policy challenges in areas like harmful content, election security and protecting people’s privacy should be addressed through updated regulations — not through misguided antitrust claims,” the social network said in a statement.

According to the FTC lawsuit, Facebook engaged in a systematic strategy including its 2012 acquisition of up-and-coming rival Instagram, its 2014 acquisition of the mobile messaging app WhatsApp, and the imposition of anticompetitive conditions on software developers to eliminate threats to its monopoly.

“This course of conduct harms competition, leaves consumers with few choices for personal social networking, and deprives advertisers of the benefits of competition,” the FTC had said.

The 48 US states filed a parallel lawsuit against Facebook, accusing the social media giant of anti-competitive conduct by abusing its market power to create a monopoly and crushing smaller competitors.

The social network argued that the “FTC does not plausibly allege that Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp were anti-competitive. The FTC reviewed both acquisitions before consummation and decided to allow them to close”.

On states, the company said that they “fail to allege the required interest (like preventing a general harm to their states’ economies) to give them standing to sue in that capacity”.

“The states’ claims based on Facebook’s acquisitions are barred by the doctrine of laches, or unfair delay. The states waited far too long to act — far longer than the four years that is the outer limit of the yardstick for laches when states and private parties sue under federal antitrust laws. Facebook would be unfairly prejudiced if the case were allowed to proceed,” the company noted.

In a statement to The Verge, New York Attorney General Letitia James said that “Facebook is wrong on the law and wrong on our complaint.”

“We are confident in our case, which is why almost every state in this nation has joined our bipartisan lawsuit to end Facebook’s illegal conduct. We will continue to stand up for the millions of consumers and many small businesses that have been harmed by Facebook’s unlawful behaviour,” James was quoted as saying in the report.