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Sunday, Sep 26, 2021

Facebook says federal, state antitrust lawsuits not credible, files motions to dismiss

Facebook says federal, state antitrust lawsuits not credible, files motions to dismiss

Company says complaints 'do not credibly claim' that its conduct harmed consumers or competition

Facebook on Wednesday filed motions to dismiss antitrust lawsuits that the Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general brought against the tech giant in December.

The tech giant said in a statement that the FTC and state attorneys general did not make credible claims that Facebook harmed competition and consumers in violation of U.S. antitrust laws.

"You only have to look at your phone to know that the government’s assertion that Facebook monopolizes 'personal social networking services' doesn’t make sense," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to FOX Business.

The spokesperson named TikTok, iMessage, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube "and countless others" that compete with Facebook for consumers' "time and attention every day."

"Over the many years since the government cleared the Instagram and WhatsApp mergers, this competition has only gotten more fierce, and consumers have benefitted enormously from Facebook's investments in these free apps," the spokesperson said, adding that the government is trying to "rewrite history with its unprecedented lawsuit."

The FTC suit asserts that Facebook has engaged in a "systematic strategy" to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.

The state lawsuit spearheaded by New York Attorney General Letitia James similarly accuses Facebook of using its vast wealth to acquire rival social media platforms capable of challenging its dominance and of utilizing third-party developers to build its own user base, only to shut down those that became threats to its business.

"Facebook is wrong on the law and wrong on our complaint," James said in a statement to FOX Business. "We are confident in our case, which is why almost every state in this nation has joined our bipartisan lawsuit to end Facebook’s illegal conduct. We will continue to stand up for the millions of consumers and many small businesses that have been harmed by Facebook’s unlawful behavior."

James noted during a December press conference that Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion "when the company did not even have a cent in revenue" and argued that its purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion was far beyond what industry analysts deemed to be market value for the messaging app.

The attorneys general claim Facebook’s business practices are predatory and anti-competitive in nature. James said at the time that the coalition would coordinate with the FTC on ongoing legal action, James added.

The FTC did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News.

Big Tech companies are facing growing opposition from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on the power they have amassed over the past decade. There's little likelihood the pressure will ease up. President Joe Biden has said that a breakup of tech giants should be seriously considered.

Lawmakers have previously pressed Facebook on its 2012 and 2014 purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp, respectively, which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) vetted at the time. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company's lawyers have previously defended the company's purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram.

Critics say such tactics quash competition and could limit viable alternatives for consumers looking, for instance, for comparable services that do less tracking for targeted advertising. Businesses, including mom and pop shops, might have to pay more for ads if they have fewer choices to reach consumers online.

The lawsuits could take years to resolve.


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