Facebook can celebrate its trillion-dollar triumph … for now
The tech firm’s court win in antitrust case is merely a delay before it hears its true fate
Facebook investors celebrated the social media giant’s court victory on Monday in two major antitrust lawsuits by driving the company’s market value above $1-trillion for the first time. But a closer look at the judge’s decision reveals it may just delay the eventual reckoning. It is not an “all-clear” ruling.
US district judge James Boasberg granted Facebook’s request to dismiss the suits filed last December by the Federal Trade Commission and a group of state attorneys general, which accuse the company of violating antitrust laws and leveraging its power in the social media market to stifle innovation and squash emerging competitors. The FTC requested court action to unwind Facebook’s prior acquisitions, including Instagram and WhatsApp, and restrict any future anticompetitive behaviour. In Monday’s opinion, Boasberg said the government failed to provide the necessary facts or evidence to back up its claim that Facebook had a more than 60% monopoly share of the social networking market. Boasberg left it open for the regulators to refile an amended case within 30 days.
This seems more like a technicality than a true dismissal of the complaints. It’s highly likely that the FTC will refile its lawsuit with the required data and evidence. Given that Facebook’s services reach nearly three billion users each month, it shouldn’t be difficult for the agency to come up with the required backup. And with antitrust scholar Lina Khan now leading the FTC, it’s also likely any renewed legal action will be formidable. ..