Facebook, the world’s biggest social media company, filed motions Wednesday to dismiss antitrust lawsuits brought by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.
In coordinated suits filed last December, the FTC and more than 40 state AGs alleged Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp in in violation of U.S. antitrust laws. The suits charged that the company’s unlawful monopoly has let it dictate how users’ private information is collected and monetized and that Facebook has imposed anticompetitive conditions on third-party developers.
Facebook, in a statement after filing the motions, argued that its acquisitions “have been good for competition, good for advertisers and good for people.”
“Our products remain popular because we constantly evolve, innovate and invest in better experiences for people against world-class competitors,” the company said. As it has previously, Facebook noted that the FTC cleared the Instagram and WhatsApp deal years ago. “We believe the government should be denied the do-over it seeks,” the company said.
“Antitrust laws are intended to promote competition and protect consumers. These complaints do not credibly claim that our conduct harmed either,” Facebook said.
Facebook claimed the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit was unprecedented in the 130-year history of the Sherman Act because the cases filed against it do not “credibly claim that our conduct harmed” competitors or consumers. “The FTC’s case against Facebook ignores the reality of the dynamic, intensely competitive high-tech industry in which Facebook operates,” the company said.
Regarding the complaint filed by the state AGs, Facebook asserted that “It does not and cannot assert that their citizens paid higher prices, that output was reduced, or that any objective measure of quality declined as a result of Facebook’s challenged actions.” The lawsuits, according to Facebook, are based on “public policy concerns” like digital privacy that are outside the purview of antitrust law.
In response to Facebook’s motions to dismiss the suits, New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led the effort by the AGs to sue Facebook, said, “Facebook is wrong on the law and wrong on our complaint. “We are confident in our case, which is why almost every state in this nation has joined our bipartisan lawsuit to end Facebook’s illegal conduct.”
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