Court dismisses FTC, state antitrust cases against Facebook

A D.C. federal court on Monday dismissed two antitrust cases brought against Facebook last year in a major setback for federal and state regulators.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will have an opportunity to file an amended complaint, but the challenge from a coalition of state attorneys general led by New York’s Letitia James (D) has been dismissed entirely.

The regulatory agency had argued that Facebook stifled competition by acquiring nascent competitors. The case called for the unwinding of WhatsApp and Instagram.

Judge James E. Boasberg, an Obama-era nominee, dismissed the FTC’s complaint as presented, but not the argument that Facebook may have a monopoly on “personal social networking.” He said the regulatory agency provided insufficient evidence to prove that Facebook controls over 60 percent of the market — as the case alleges — but that conceivably it could do so.

What’s next: The FTC has until July 29 to file an amended complaint.

The court also determined Monday that the state AG case was filed too late. The lawsuit, filed last year, had challenged Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, which were completed in 2014 and 2012 respectively.

What Facebook thinks: A company spokesperson said Facebook is “pleased” by Monday’s rulings.

“We compete fairly every day to earn people’s time and attention and will continue to deliver great products for the people and businesses that use our services,” they added in a statement.

The social media giant hit a market cap of $1 trillion for the first time Monday shortly after the rulings.