March 10, 2021
Facebook filings seek dismissal of antitrust lawsuits
Facebook said Wednesday it filed motions seeking dismissal of US federal and state antitrust lawsuits, claiming there is no credible case to be made that it has harmed competition or excluded rivals in social networking.
The motions are an expected formality in what was forecast to be a lengthy process stemming from antitrust complaints filed by federal and state antitrust enforcers which have the potential to lead to a breakup of the tech giant.
"Antitrust laws are intended to promote competition and protect consumers. These complaints do not credibly claim that our conduct harmed either," Facebook said in announcing the court filings.
The legal action according to Facebook, "ignores the realities of the fierce competition we face every day and sends a dangerous message that no sale is ever final."
Separate suits filed by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state officials in December called for the divestment of Instagram and WhatsApp, services which are part of the Facebook "family" of applications.
The federal lawsuit alleged that Facebook's actions sought "to entrench and maintain its monopoly" and to "deny consumers the benefits of competition."
The enforcement actions come amid a growing backlash against Big Tech firms which have dominated key economic sectors and have seen their fortunes rise with increased usage during the pandemic.
If the legal actions run their course, it could mean a fierce court battle seeking to force Facebook to divest the apps which have become an increasingly important element of the business model of the California giant and integrated into its technology.
In its response Wednesday, Facebook said the federal government has muddied the waters by trying to label it a monopoly in the field of "personal social network" that is vaguely defined.
"People use TikTok, iMessage, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube and countless others to connect, discover, share, and communicate," a Facebook spokesperson said.
"Facebook competes with all of those services for people's time and attention every day. Over the many years since the government cleared the Instagram and WhatsApp mergers, this competition has only gotten more fierce, and consumers have benefitted enormously from Facebook's investments in these free apps."
Facebook maintained that the states' lawsuit has a series of legal errors, arguing they lacked legal standing and waited too long after the acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp.
© 2021 AFP