US States Appeal Antitrust Lawsuit Against Facebook

Multiple US States have appealed the antitrust lawsuit against Facebook with the hopes of resurrecting their case.

It’s looking like the second wave of antitrust action against the large tech giants are continuing. Late last year, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) filed an amended lawsuit after their previous attempt failed. Facebook, for their part, attempted to have the lawsuit blocked. Earlier this month, we learned that this attempt to block the lawsuit failed. While the judges reaction to the amended lawsuit suggests that he is skeptical of the success of the second attempt, the efforts kept the antitrust efforts remain alive.

You might recall that the FTC is far from the only ones taking legal action against Facebook over antitrust concerns. In 2019, another lawsuit was filed by multiple US states to say that Facebook needs to be broken up due to competition concerns. In June of last year, a judge dismissed the lawsuit, putting another nail in the coffin of the first wave of litigation against big tech. From Bloomberg at the time:

Facebook Inc. won a court ruling dismissing two monopoly lawsuits filed by the U.S. government and a coalition of states that sought to break up the company, dealing a blow to efforts by antitrust officials to take on the biggest tech platforms.

The decision by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington on Monday sent Facebook shares soaring, pushing the company’s market value to more than $1 trillion.

The decision was ultimately the beginning of the end of the first wave of antitrust efforts against the company. It also left the impression that Facebook was seemingly invulnerable to such action. It left many critics of “Big Tech” disappointed and even led to some soul searching.

However, with the recent decision to not dismiss the second FTC lawsuit outright, it looks like there is renewed hope that Facebook could be broken up finally. The US States have appealed the decision to dismiss their lawsuit. The appeal is an effort to resurrect their part of the case. From Reuters:

Dozens of states led by New York asked a U.S. federal appeals court on Friday to reinstate an antitrust lawsuit filed against Facebook.

“Facebook is a monopolist that has exploited its immense market power to crush competition. Through an ongoing course of conduct to ‘buy or bury’ nascent competitors, Facebook has maintained a monopoly that harms its users and the public at large,” wrote lawyers for New York and other states in a filing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) said the states were wrong to ask for the district court dismissal to be reversed. “There are no grounds for overturning that decision in the court of appeals,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said Facebook was bad for consumers. “Time and again, the social media giant has used its market dominance to force small companies out of business and reduce competition for millions of users,” she said.

The group, made up of 46 states, Guam and the District of Columbia, argued that U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia erred in ruling they had waited too long to file the lawsuit.

They argued that states are allowed delays that private plaintiffs are not. They also argued that if the court determined they did wait too long, states are allowed deference that others are not because of their role in protecting the public interest.

There’s no real indication as of yet as to the chances of succeeding on appeal. Still, it shows that the plaintiffs on this part of the case have not yet given up.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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