A federal court has dismissed the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust complaint against Facebook, saying the agency failed to provide evidence for its claim that the social media giant has a monopoly on social networks.
Facebook closed above $1 trillion in market value for the first time after the decision. It became the fifth American company to achieve this feat, joining Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet.
Judge James Boasberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia said the FTC had failed to defend sufficient facts to show that Facebook had monopoly power in the PSN market.
Boasberg wrote that the FTC had not done enough to support its assertion that Facebook holds a 60 percent share of the social media market.
The Federal Trade Commission alleged that Facebook violated the country's antitrust laws by acquiring start-ups like Instagram that it sees as a threat to its dominance, and by blocking others from connecting to Facebook's services.
A spokesperson for the agency said, we are pleased that the decisions recognize the flaws in the government complaints filed against Facebook. The Federal Trade Commission is closely reviewing the judge's opinion and determining its next steps.
The decision represents a setback for antitrust regulators who have called for the company to be dissolved. But while the judge dismissed the FTC's complaint, he generally did not dismiss the case, saying that problems with the FTC's lawsuit could be addressed if the agency filed an amended complaint.
The Bosberg ruling sparked further calls for Congress to update the country's antitrust laws. And the
Rep. Ken Buck said, the development in the case shows that there is an urgent need for antitrust reform. Congress needs to provide additional tools and resources for antitrust enforcers to go after big tech companies that engage in anticompetitive behavior.
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee introduced a package of landmark laws. These laws would allow antitrust regulators to break up big tech companies.
Critics accused Facebook of targeting small start-ups like Instagram early in their life cycles. This buy-or-break strategy allegedly helped Facebook maintain its position as a top-tier social networking company.
In a separate decision, Boasberg dismissed a similar antitrust lawsuit against Facebook brought by dozens of state governments, saying they waited too long to challenge Facebook's acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, which were completed in 2014 and 2012.
In the lawsuit, states alleged that Facebook acted anti-competitively. This is done by preventing competing applications from accessing its platform. Additionally, Boasberg writes that there is nothing illegal in having the company's policy to prevent interoperability with external applications. He said Facebook may have violated antitrust law in implementing its policy. But the lawsuits came too late.