new York After the US government was able to bring its competition lawsuit against Facebook to court, dozens of states are not letting up. Forty-eight state and territory attorneys general on Friday appealed the judge’s decision that dismissed their lawsuit last year.
The central allegation in the lawsuit brought by the states and the US trade authority FTC is identical: Facebook bought the services Instagram and WhatsApp to protect its monopoly in online networks in an unfair way. Therefore, Facebook must be forced to sell them again.
Judge James Boasberg initially dismissed both lawsuits last summer. In the case of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), he criticized that the monopoly accusation against Facebook had not been sufficiently proven. However, he gave the Commission the opportunity to rectify the complaint. He accepted the second version of the lawsuit, which was backed up with numbers, this week.
But Boasberg gave the states no chance. He argued that they had waited an unreasonably long time before filing a lawsuit and their claims had therefore expired. In the appeal, the Attorneys General countered that, on the one hand, this principle was not applicable to states. On the other hand, the extent of Facebook’s anti-competitive behavior only became apparent over time.
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Facebook bought Instagram for around $1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 for around $22 billion. Instagram now has around one billion users, WhatsApp around two billion. The US competition authorities had approved the takeovers at the time.
In a reaction to the acceptance of the FTC lawsuit, the Facebook group Meta was convinced “that the facts will reveal the fundamental weakness of the allegations”. Facebook’s investments in WhatsApp and Instagram have been good for competition and users, a spokesman said.
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