Antitrust: setback in court for the US authorities against Facebook

The US competition authority as well as 48 US states and territories lost a legal round on Monday against Facebook, which they accuse of anti-competitive practices. Result: the group’s action skyrocketed.

A US judge on Monday, June 28, inflicted a setback on the country’s authorities who accused Facebook of anti-competitive practices by rejecting complaints filed at the end of 2020, pushing the social network above $ 1 trillion in market capitalization for the first time.

The US competition authority (FTC) and prosecutors representing 48 states and territories believed that Facebook was abusing its dominant position and its well-filled coffers to oust competition, including asking the courts to force the company to shut down. separate from Instagram and WhatsApp.

But according to Judge James Boasberg, “the FTC failed to present enough facts to plausibly establish” that the group really had monopoly power over social media. The agency’s complaint “says almost nothing concrete on the key issue of Facebook’s real power (…), it’s almost as if the agency expects the court to quietly approve the widespread idea according to which Facebook is a monopoly “, notes the magistrate in his argument.

Regarding the allegations made by the attorneys general against Facebook’s takeovers of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, the judge considered that they were far too late (filed in 2020).

He further claimed that the policy according to which Facebook prevented the transfer of data to competing applications like Twitter, TikTok or Snapchat was not contrary to competition laws.

The social network welcomed these decisions, which “recognize the flaws of the government complaints filed against Facebook”. “We compete fairly with other companies every day to gain people’s time and attention,” said a spokesperson.

On Wall Street, the action of the group of Mark Zuckerberg ended in stride up 4.2%, exceeding for the first time the symbolic threshold of $ 1 trillion in capitalization.

The judge, however, leaves a door open: if he rejects the attorneys general’s complaint entirely, he gives the FTC 30 days to present new documents to specifically support his charges.

These decisions come at a time when the American authorities are raising the tone against the Gafa – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Other lawsuits have been launched in recent months against Google for abuse of a dominant position, and numerous investigations into the Gafa are still ongoing.

American elected officials are also determined to attack the omnipotence of these giants: a parliamentary committee last week approved several bills seeking, among other things, to force Facebook to let its users leave the social network by taking them with them. their contacts and personal information with a competitor. It is also planned to prohibit the colossi of the tech from acquiring competitors to preserve their market power.

These texts still have to go through the House of Representatives, with a Democratic majority, then through the Senate, where their fate is more uncertain.

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