Meta’s request for a dismissal of a revised antitrust suit brought against it by US antitrust agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was thrown out as a Federal judge has ruled that the antitrust watchdog can proceed in the suit against the social media giant.
FTC, a US agency enforcing civil U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection had in a revised complaint it filed August 2021 had argued that Meta Inc, formerly Facebook Inc had pursued a “buy or bury” strategy against rivals to suppress competition.
This will be the second time the FTC will be pursuing an antitrust suit against Meta, as the first antitrust suit filed against the company by FTC and a coalition attorneys general were struck out and dismissed by the U.S District Court of the District of Columbia. Federal judge, James Boasberg had dismissed the suit in June 2021 for lacking merit. The judge had ruled that the agency could not provide enough evidence to prove that the then Facebook Inc had a monopoly of social media or it abused it power and influence by harming competition.
The FTC held on its claims that the company its monopoly power through acquisitions, which the agency has described as a “buy-or-bury” strategy. He dismissed, however, the agency’s charge that Facebook violated antitrust laws by cutting off third parties from its platform.
“Although the agency may well face a tall task down the road in proving its allegations, the court believes that it has now cleared the pleading bar and may proceed to discovery,” Judge Boasberg said.
The judge had in June ruled that the agency’s original lawsuit was “legally insufficient” and didn’t provide enough evidence to prove that Facebook was a monopoly, said in Tuesday’s ruling, adding that the first complaint “stumbled out of the starting blocks.”
But the claim that Facebook is a monopoly engaging in anticompetitive behaviour remains intact, and this time is “far more robust and detailed than before.”
Meta in a statement averred that it is “confident the evidence will reveal the fundamental weakness of the claims.”
It added: “Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp transformed them into what they are today,” the company said. “They have been good for competition and good for the people and businesses that choose to use our products.”
The Director, Federal Trade Commission’s bureau of competition, Holly Vedova, said the agency presented a “strong amended complaint a strong amended complaint, and we look forward to trial.”
The FTC not satisfied with the ruling re-filed the case in August last year.