Facebook has managed to evade an antitrust battle after a US federal court dismissed an FTC complaint, but the problems are far from over.

In great relief to Facebook, a US federal court dismissed the antitrust case brought against the social media company for allegedly using anti-competitive tactics and exercising a monopoly. Filed in December last year, the FTC’s lawsuit sought a divestment that would see the reversal of Facebook’s purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp. In addition to alleging Facebook of using its deep pockets to stifle competition by buying up budding rivals, the company was also accused of imposing its policies on developers.

The latter refers to Facebook’s API distribution system, which is said to have enabled interoperability only on the condition that its product does not compete with Facebook itself. Of course, the company dismissed the FTC’s ‘illegal conduct’ allegations with its own extensive blog post and struck back at the agency for setting a bad precedent for businesses, sending a message that a deal never really ends. , even if the FTC authorized it. years ago.

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This week, US District Judge James E. Boasberg dismissed the complaint, along with a parallel lawsuit filed by a coalition of more than 40 states at the same time, according to CNBC. The federal court noted that the FTC was unable to back up its claims that Facebook wielded monopoly power with real numbers. Furthermore, the agency did not provide a convincing argument that Facebook’s decision to block interoperability was illegal.

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Relief for Facebook, but the troubles are not over

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

The US FTC argued that Facebook maintains a more than 60 percent share of the PSN (Personal Social Networking Services) market, but did not provide actual market data to support those claims. The court ruling mentions that the FTC did not provide any statistics that could offer an idea of ​​the “actual number or range of Facebook’s market share“Anytime in the last decade. This inability to provide credible data that could establish Facebook’s dominant market share undermines the argument that the company led by Mark Zuckerberg wields monopoly power.

Furthermore, the court argued that money earned by a PSN service cannot be used as a metric to measure market share as it spans a much larger geography than just the US market. This makes it even more so. hard to understand what ‘more than 60 percent’ market share quoted by the FTC actually refers. Coming to the part where Facebook has been accused of using its API rules to violate antitrust policies, the FTC again was unable to substantiate those claims. The court notes that revoking API access to a select few names could lead to punitive action, but blocking API distribution in its entirety to rivals is not classified as a violation of antitrust rules. Like Facebook, Apple is also under the antitrust scanner in Europe where it has been accused of violating competition laws.

However, the problems are not really over for Facebook. The US federal court has only dismissed the complaint, but not the entire case. In fact, the court has given a 30-day window to file an updated complaint in which the FTC can back up its claims with actual figures. What this means is that another legal showdown between Facebook and the FTC in July cannot be ruled out. Not to mention, that’s not the only concern for the social media titan, who now has a market value of more than $ 1 trillion.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers proposed five antitrust bills aimed at tightening control over big tech, specifically targeting Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. The proposals could impact everything from Amazon’s dominance of e-commerce to online advertising of in-house products and the acquisition of fledgling rivals, to name a few. The bills are controversial, but if passed, Facebook and its multi-million dollar acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp could again come under intense scrutiny.

Next: How Facebook’s New AI Combats Deepfakes By Identifying Creators

Fountain: CNBC

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