Facebook filed a motion Monday to dismiss a revised Federal Trade Commission antitrust lawsuit, arguing for a second time that the agency's claim that Facebook is a monopoly is incorrect because it has many competitors in the social media market.
Biden-appointed FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, a well-known anti-monopolist, filed an amended antitrust complaint against Facebook in August after the agency's first lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in June.
Facebook says in its motion that there is no factual basis for the claims that it has a monopoly power, that it doesn't maintain a monopoly power through unfair or exclusionary conduct, and that the FTC's new complaint has been incorrectly filed by Khan, who should be recused from the case due to her prior history of criticizing Facebook.
The social media giant wants this second attempt to accuse Facebook of behaving like an illegal monopoly to be shot down like the first one.
“The FTC’s fictional market ignores the competitive reality: Facebook competes vigorously with TikTok, iMessage, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube … The FTC cannot credibly claim Facebook has monopoly power because no such power exists," a Facebook spokesperson said.
A federal court dismissed the trade commission's first antitrust lawsuit against Facebook in June, saying the agency was too vague in its complaint and didn't do enough to support its assertion that Facebook abused its power in the social media market.
"The FTC's Complaint says almost nothing concrete on the key question of how much power Facebook actually had, and still has, in a properly defined antitrust product market," U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote in the complaint's dismissal in June.
"It is almost as if the agency expects the Court to simply nod to the conventional wisdom that Facebook is a monopolist," he added.
The California-based company says that the trade commission's second attempt to sue Facebook is an unfair attack on the agency's approval of Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in the past decade.
"In turning antitrust law on its head, the Commission sends the message that no deal is ever truly final and that successful American businesses can be punished for innovating and improving products that give people greater value and choice," Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook also says that the revised lawsuit wouldn't have been filed in the first place without Khan's deciding vote at the agency and that she shouldn't have been allowed to vote on the matter at all, given that she wrote a report criticizing Facebook while she worked for the House Judiciary Subcommittee in 2019 and 2020.
Facebook lawyers said Khan had "an axe to grind" against the company and that they are asking the court to ensure the case is paused until a judge can decide whether Khan was too biased and should have been disqualified from the case.
The court's decision regarding the amended complaint is also likely to affect the political debate around antitrust law. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle often argue existing laws are insufficient to hold Facebook and other tech giants accountable.
The trade commission's lawsuit against Facebook comes at a tumultuous time for the tech giant.
The whistleblower behind a recent series of bombshell revelations on Facebook's effects on teenage girls' mental health, its use by drug cartels and human traffickers, and its special rules for VIPs revealed herself on Monday.
She gave a large trove of controversial internal company documents to the Wall Street Journal, which used them for its Facebook Files series, which has thrown the company into a crisis in the past month.
Facebook and the network of social media companies it owns, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus VR, also suddenly went offline Monday. The exact cause of the shutdown is not clear.
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Original Author: Nihal Krishan