Facebook urges courtroom to throw out FTC’s antitrust swimsuit — once more


Facebook on Monday urged a federal courtroom to throw out the Federal Trade Commission’s revised antitrust swimsuit in opposition to the corporate — an indication the social media large plans to play hardball throughout a pivotal week in Washington.

The widely-expected courtroom submitting got here weeks after the FTC filed an amended criticism in opposition to Facebook accusing the corporate of holding a monopoly within the US since 2011. It additionally got here on a day when Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp providers had been offline globally for causes that hadn’t been decided.

The FTC swimsuit seeks to power Facebook to restructure or unload belongings, together with Instagram and WhatsApp. The regulator says proudly owning these apps enable Facebook to unfairly squash competitors.

But Facebook mentioned the revised FTC swimsuit stays “entirely without legal or factual support.”

“The FTC still has no valid factual basis for alleging monopoly power,” attorneys for Facebook argued in a 55-page submitting.  

“This court gave the agency a second chance to make a valid claim,” Facebook mentioned in Monday’s submitting. “But the same deficiency that was fatal to the FTC’s initial complaint remains: the amended complaint still pleads no facts plausibly establishing that Facebook has, and at all relevant times had, monopoly power.”

The FTC filed the amended criticism in August after federal choose James E. Boasberg threw out a Trump-era model for being “vague” and “too speculative” in its arguments. 

In the FTC’s amended criticism, the regulator argued that Facebook holds a monopoly within the “personal social networking” market. 

FTC headquarters in Washington, DC
The Federal Trade Commission says Facebook has a monopoly within the “personal social networking” market. 

The FTC argued that Facebook’s sphere of competitors is separate from on-line platforms like YouTube or TikTok. The FTC mentioned folks don’t primarily use these platforms to speak with family and friends. Therefore, simply because TikTok is fashionable, that doesn’t imply Facebook doesn’t have a monopoly in relation to social media platforms which can be used for private communication, the FTC mentioned.

“Snapchat is the next-largest provider of personal social networking services, but its user base pales in comparison: Snapchat has tens of millions fewer monthly users than either Facebook Blue or Instagram,” the FTC argued, referring to the primary Facebook web site and the photo-sharing web site.

Facebook argued in its response that the thought of a definite private social media house that excludes TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and even Apple’s iMessage is a authorized fiction. 

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp logos
The swimsuit seeks to power Facebook to restructure or unload belongings together with Instagram and WhatsApp that it says assist the corporate unfairly squash competitors.
AFP by way of Getty Images

“The absence of any data, from any source, for a [personal social networking services] market makes clear that the proposed market reflects the FTC’s litigation imperatives – not commercial realities,” Facebook mentioned within the submitting. 

Facebook has additionally argued that FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan ought to recuse herself from the probe as a result of she has criticized the corporate previously. 

Monday’s submitting — which got here lower than 24 hours earlier than Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is ready to testify within the Senate — reveals that Facebook just isn’t conceding any floor in what might be an existential battle with antitrust regulators. 

But markets weren’t taking Facebook’s aspect, it appeared. The firm’s inventory was down 5.8 % by Monday afternoon as buyers digested Haugen’s Sunday night time 60 Minutes interview and anticipated her Tuesday testimony. The up to date courtroom submitting did little to carry Facebook shares.

The Monday submitting additionally got here amid an hours-long wave of outages affecting Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp customers across the globe. The outage additionally appeared to have an effect on Facebook’s personal inner providers, forcing the corporate to speak with journalists on Monday by way of a third-party public relations agency, Brunswick Group.