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Iowa, 47 other states had claimed tech giant had ‘gained tremendous power’
WASHINGTON — A federal judge Monday dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state attorneys general, including Iowa’s Tom Miler, dealing a significant blow to attempts by regulators to rein in tech giants.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that the lawsuits were “legally insufficient” and didn’t provide enough evidence to prove that Facebook was a monopoly.
The ruling dismisses the complaint but not the case, meaning the FTC could refile another complaint.
“These allegations — which do not even provide an estimated actual figure or range for Facebook’s market share at any point over the past 10 years — ultimately fall short of plausibly establishing that Facebook holds market power,” he said.
The U.S. government and 48 states and districts sued Facebook in December 2020, accusing the tech giant of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors and seeking remedies that could include a forced spinoff of the social network’s Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services.
The FTC had alleged Facebook engaged in “a systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.
“We’re studying the opinion and weighing our options,” Iowa’s Attorney General’s Office said Monday in response to the dismissal.
Iowa’s Miller said at the time of the filing in December that “Facebook has gained tremendous power over Americans' lives through its monopolistic behavior. Without meaningful competition, consumers and small businesses have fewer choices in social networking, resulting in diminished privacy, reduced quality and less transparency.”
Boasberg dismissed the separate complaint made by the state attorneys general as well.