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Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Source: NBC News
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  • Global tech giant Facebook has urged a United States federal court to dismiss some serious antitrust cases filed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year
  • The cases, which have been backed by almost every state in the U.S., would see Facebook forced to sell to of its prized assets, WhatsApp and Instagram
  • However, Facebook claims the FTC’s allegations are not backed up by any evidence and ignore crucial information about its business
  • The FTC alleges that Facebook has a monopoly in its market and has acted in a way that harms consumers
  • Facebook claims the FTC cases are “virtually ignoring” the competitive nature of the market that books the tech company almost all of its revenue — advertising
  • The social media business also said, given that the FTC approved the purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram in 2012 and 2014, respectively, it’s much too late to try to get them reversed now
  • Nevertheless, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Facebook is “wrong on the law and wrong on our complaint”
  • The FTC and states presenting the cases against Facebook have until April 7, 2021, to formally respond to Facebook’s statements

Global tech giant Facebook has urged a United States federal court to dismiss some serious antitrust cases filed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year.

The cases were backed by almost every state in the U.S., alleging Facebook had a monopoly in its market and acted in a way that harmed consumers.

However, Facebook has hit back this week, saying the FTC and states behind the cases have provided no evidence of monopoly or antitrust actions.

“By a one-vote margin, in the fraught environment of relentless criticism of Facebook for matters entirely unrelated to antitrust concerns, the agency decided to bring a case against Facebook that ignores its own prior decisions, controlling precedent, and the limits of its statutory authority,” Facebook’s complaint to the federal court said.

“The FTC’s one-count monopolization case against Facebook utterly ignores the reality of the dynamic, intensely competitive high-tech industry in which Facebook operates.”

WhatsApp and Instagram on the chopping block

The FTC cases would see Facebook forced to sell its instant-messaging platform, WhatsApp, and image-sharing platform, Instagram. Facebook bought Instagram for US$1 billion (around A$1.3 billion) in 2012 and bought Whatsapp for a whopping US$19 billion (around A$24.5 billion) in 2014.

The FTC and states’ cases come amid a string of lawsuits against big tech last year following outrage over the misuse of social media to influence the economy and the political sphere. The federal government and states filed five lawsuits against Facebook and Google.

Now, Facebook has lashed out at the FTC and the many states behind the cases, saying the lawsuits send a “dangerous message” that no sale is ever final.

Facebook highlighted that the FTC has already reviewed both the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions in 2012 and 2014, respectively, and allowed them to close. As such, the social media giant suggests it would be “unfairly prejudiced” if the federal court allowed the acquisitions to be reverse more than half a decade later.

Facebook also claims the FTC cases are “virtually ignoring” the competitive nature of the market that books the tech company almost all of its revenue — advertising.

Essentially, Facebook claims the government has failed to show it has a monopoly in a clearly defined market or that it has hurt consumers with its conduct.

Facebook also made the blatant claim that the FTC’s assertion that Facebook has a market share “in excess of 60 per cent” needs to be disregarded because it is not supported by any facts.

As such, the social media business is asking the federal court to dismiss the cases brought by the FTC and the U.S. states entirely.

Nevertheless, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Facebook is “wrong on the law and wrong on our complaint”.

“We are confident in our case, which is why almost every state in the nation has joined our bipartisan lawsuit to end Facebook’s illegal conduct,” she said.

The FTC and states presenting the cases against Facebook have until April 7, 2021, to formally respond to Facebook’s statements.

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