US judge rejects antitrust lawsuits against Facebook

A judge has dismissed two antitrust lawsuits against Facebook, one brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the other by a coalition of US states, dealing a major blow to regulators and sending the company’s stock price to record levels.

In an opinion Monday dismissing the FTC’s complaint, Judge James Boasberg in federal district court in Washington, D.C. said the agency’s lawsuit was “legally insufficient.”

In particular, the judge found that the FTC “failed to defend sufficient facts to reasonably establish” that Facebook had a monopoly on the personal social networking services market.

However, the judge said the FTC will have 30 days to file a new complaint if it so desires.

By contrast, Boasberg has outright dismissed a similar case brought by a group of 46 states and two other jurisdictions — led by New York Attorney General Letitia James — on the grounds that any alleged abuses occurred too long ago.

The ruling is a major setback for the organizers, who in December Accused The company with anti-competitive behaviour, including strategic buying of competitors who threatened its monopoly power and cutting services to put pressure on rival developers.

The FTC said at the time that it was seeking sanctions, including the forced dismantling of Facebook from Instagram and WhatsApp, and the acquisitions it made in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Facebook’s stock price jumped more than 4 percent in the news to a high of $357.36, surpassing the $1 trillion market capitalization for the first time.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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