Judge dismisses FTC antitrust complaint against Facebook

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Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg greets members of congress after testifying at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

Erin Scott | Reuters

A federal court on Monday dismissed the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust complaint against Facebook, dealing a major setback for the agency’s complaint that could have resulted in Facebook divesting Instagram and WhatsApp.

“Although the Court does not agree with all of Facebook’s contentions here, it ultimately concurs that the agency’s Complaint is legally insufficient and must therefore be dismissed,” reads the filing from U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “The FTC has failed to plead enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of all of its Section 2 claims — namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking (PSN) Services.”

The court dismissed the complaint, not the case, meaning the FTC could file its complaint once again.

In the filing, the court states that the FTC did not prove Facebook maintains a monopoly.

“The Court agrees that the first — the possession of monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking Services (as defined by the agency) — is not adequately pleaded here,” the filing reads. “No more is needed to conclude that the Complaint must be dismissed.”

Shares of Facebook rose more than 3% on Monday following the complaint’s dismissal, sending the social media company’s market capitalization above $1 trillion for the first time.

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