Richter lässt US-Kartellklage gegen Facebook zu

12 Jan. 2022 14:18

The competition lawsuit, with which the US government wants to smash Facebook, has been accepted in the second attempt by a court in Washington. In the amended complaint, the judge responsible saw the allegation of unfair competition as better justified.

Judge James Boasberg has granted the US Federal Trade Commission FTC’s lawsuit against the social network Facebook on the second attempt. As evidenced by Tuesday’s court documents, the judge now saw the allegation of unfair competition much better founded after dismissing the first version in the summer of 2021, citing inadequate reasoning, including missing numbers. This time Boasberg did not accept Facebook’s demand to dismiss the lawsuit because of alleged bias on the part of FTC boss Lina Khan. At the same time, the judge emphasized that it was still completely open who would ultimately prevail in the proceedings. It should drag on for years.

A spokesman for the Facebook group Meta said Wall Street Journal after the judge ruled that it was convinced that the facts would refute the allegations. Facebook’s investments in the WhatsApp chat service and the Instagram photo platform were good for the competition.

In the lawsuit, the US trade authority accuses Facebook, among other things, of buying WhatsApp and Instagram to protect its own monopoly in the market. Therefore, the takeovers should be reversed. The FTC notes that from 2016 to 2020 Facebook had an average market share of 80 percent on smartphones and 98 percent on PCs with daily active users. At no point in time and on any device type did the proportion fall below 70 percent.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for around one billion dollars and WhatsApp in 2014 for around 22 billion dollars in the end. The US competition watchdogs approved the takeovers at that time. The original lawsuit was filed in December 2020 at the end of the tenure of then US President Donald Trump. It was improved under his successor Joe Biden. In addition to the FTC, an alliance of more than 40 states filed a lawsuit against the deals. This was completely rejected by Judge Boasberg in June.

TikTok most popular online platform in the world

Regardless of the outcome, the case could establish a fixed definition of the market for social networks in the US justice system and thus create a clearer framework for antitrust proceedings. The FTC now describes platforms as personal social networks on which users maintain contacts with friends and family and share contributions and experiences in a common space. Based on this definition, the FTC sees Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, for example, in different categories because they are geared more towards the use of content than personal connections. As a direct competitor of Facebook, among other things, Snapchat is named in the lawsuit.

The biggest competition to date in the tech industry in the 1990s was about Microsoft. The group bundled the Internet Explorer web browser with its Windows operating system. The US Department of Justice argued at the time that in view of the dominant market position of Windows, browser rivals such as Netscape had been pushed out of the still new market. In the meantime, a judge ordered Microsoft to be broken up, but this was overturned by an appeals court. In the end, the Justice Department and Microsoft agreed on milder conditions.

more on the subject – Cyber ​​mercenaries are spying on Facebook users

(rt / dpa)

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