A federal judge has dismissed the monopoly lawsuit against Facebook presented by the US Federal Trade Commission and 46 States of the Union. The social network is free of any measure that seeks to reduce its power, since the judge does not consider that there are enough indications even to reach a trial. It also argues that the plaintiffs waited too long to file the lawsuit.
The case falls within efforts to control Big Tech calls, US technology companies that are considered “too” big (Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple). An influence that many consider detrimental against free competition. Indirectly, Apple benefits from the outcome of this lawsuit.
WhatsApp and Instagram interoperability and acquisitions
In what ends up being a scavenger For the case presented by the federal government and the states, the judge finds that there is not enough evidence to open a trial (according to the 53-page case document). Specifically, Facebook was facing the monopoly charge here through two channels. The first of these was the refusal to offer interoperability permissions between its platform and that of competing apps.
The judge has settled this front stating that “there is nothing illegal about having this policy in general.” While its application only to certain competitors could be considered monopolistic conduct, the events occurred in 2013. The judge considers that “the FTC lacks statutory authority” for having allowed too much time between the actions and the lawsuit.
As for the acquisitions of Instagram and Facebook, the court notes the fact that the FTC itself approved both acquisitions at the time. Facebook argued that this, coupled with the fact that they also happened long ago, should drop the allegations. However, the judge does not agree with the company, denies the possibility for the States to persecute it, but it opens the door for the FTC itself to do it in a separate case (although the result of an action on this line is uncertain).
The case has not even gone to trial, a blow to the credibility of the federal government and the 46 states.
Finally, one aspect of the judge’s conclusions about Facebook’s market share should be highlighted. Given the nature of a social network, the usual metrics cannot be applied to it units sold, income or any other. Among other things, because it is a free service to the end user. He considers that “the limits of a social network are not easily discernible” and that the argument that Facebook has more than 60% of the market share of social networks is “too speculative” and does not hold.
A breath of relief for Apple
Regardless of the trial between Epic Games and Apple already seen for sentence and others such as the European Commission investigation, the Cupertino company has yet to face a federal antitrust case that has not materialized. And the collapse of the Facebook front in the hands of the states and the trade agency provides a respite for Apple.
There are numerous reasons why Apple and its App Store cannot be considered a monopoly. It would be very difficult to prove that the iPhone or the App Store they have some kind of dominant market share. Faced with a similar accusation, Apple can request that the lawsuit be dismissed just like Facebook has done, without even going to trial.
Many consider that the current antitrust laws are not adapted to the new times. That they weren’t created with companies like Facebook or Apple in mind. Hence up to five laws are being forged to bring the so-called Big Tech to the waistline. Their processing is still pending and they face many obstacles to get ahead.