A federal judge this Tuesday declined to toss out the FTC’s antitrust suit against Facebook, stating that they had a good case to proceed.
Facebook, which is now called Meta Platforms, had requested that Federal Judge James Boasberg from D.C. federal court to toss out the suit in which the federal government wanted the court to force Facebook to sell WhatsApp and Instagram.
The FTC’s legal battle with Facebook represents one of the largest challenges the federal government has had with a tech company for decades, and is now being closely looked at as Washington moves to tackle Big Tech’s large political power.
“Ultimately, if the FTC can prove its case and succeed at summary judgment is anybody’s guess. The Court does not engage in speculation at this motion-to-dismiss time period, where the FTC’s accusations are treated as accurate, the agency has said a plausible relief claim,” said Boasberg.
The FTC had sued Facebook during the former Donald Trump White House, and its complaint was refused by the court. The agency filed a new complaint in Aug., adding more details on the allegations that the social media tech company destroyed rivals using unfair practices and once again asking the judge to force them to sell messaging app WhatsApp and photo app Instagram.
Meta shares increased 1.9% this Tuesday, closed at $334.37.
In his decision to deny the dismissal, the federal judge, however, stated that the FTC would not press allegations that Facebook would not accept interoperability permissions with other apps as a way to keep its power, stating that those policies were abandoned in 2018 and Facebook’s most recent enforcement of the new policy was even older.
But Boasberg said the FTC that Chairman Lina Khan, who pushed for an amended complaint against Facebook, should not have recused herself, stating that her part was less like a judge and a lot more like a prosecutor.
“Although Lina Khan has showed opinions about Facebook’s monopoly powers, those views do not mean the sort of ‘axe to grind’ due to animosity that has disqualified some prosecutors previously,” said Boasberg.