FTC files new antitrust complaint against Facebook

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FTC Commissioner nominee Lina M. Khan testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 21, 2021.

Graeme Jennings | AFP | Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission filed a new antitrust complaint against Facebook on Thursday, continuing its fight in federal court after a judge threw out its initial claims.

Facebook has until Oct. 4 to respond to the FTC’s amended complaint.

Facebook shares were slightly positive Thursday morning.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg gave the FTC a second chance to bring its claims that Facebook has illegally maintained a monopoly after dismissing its first complaint in June.

Boasberg wrote that the FTC failed to define a plausible market that Facebook monopolized and suggested too loose of a percentage of market share it owned. Plus, he wrote, the FTC lacked authority under its chosen statute to bring charges against Facebook for how it implemented an old policy preventing rivals from accessing its platform seven years ago.

Boasberg said in order to receive an injunction under that statute, it must be clear that a violation is in progress or about to occur.

The new complaint is longer than the original, clocking in at 80 pages compared to 53. But in broad strokes, it maintains the core arguments of the original, including allegations that Facebook used anticompetitive acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp to further its monopoly power and that it also unfairly blocked rivals from accessing its application programming interface (API).

The judge also dismissed a similar lawsuit from a coalition of state attorneys general in June, but declined to give them the same second chance as the FTC. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led the coalition, said they would seek to appeal the ruling.

Facebook filed a petition for new Democratic Chair Lina Khan to be recused from the case, citing her past work and statements critical of the tech industry. Khan said at her confirmation hearing she doesn’t have financial conflicts that would require her recusal from tech cases under ethics laws.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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