US judge junks govt antitrust lawsuits against Facebook: Report

Topics Facebook | Lawsuits | US Antitrust

Facebook won a court ruling dismissing two monopoly lawsuits filed by the US government and a coalition of states that sought to break up the company, dealing a blow to efforts by antitrust officials to take on the biggest tech platforms.

The decision by US District Judge James Boasberg in Washington sent Facebook shares soaring on Monday, pushing the company’s market value to more than $1 trillion.

Boasberg granted the company’s request to dismiss the complaints filed last year by the US Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general led by New York, saying in his opinion the FTC failed to meet the burden for establishing that Facebook has a monopoly in social networking.

The judge faulted the FTC for failing to detail how Facebook has monopoly power in a market the agency described as personal social networking. The agency’s claim that Facebook has in excess of 60 percent of a vaguely defined market is “too speculative and conclusory to go forward,” he wrote in the ruling. Boasberg said the agency could refile the complaint within 30 days.

“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,” Boasberg said. “It is almost as if the agency expects the court to simply nod to the conventional wisdom that Facebook is a monopolist.”

Facebook shares gained 4.2 per cent to $355.64 at the close in New York on Monday, the biggest single-day increase since April 29. The stock has jumped 30 per cent this year. But in early Tuesday trade, it was down 1.28 per cent.

“We are pleased that today’s decisions recognize the defects in the government complaints filed against Facebook,” said a company spokesman.

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