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Meta Seeks Dismissal Of FTC’s WhatsApp-Instagram Monopoly Lawsuit

Meta Denver office (Image: Sourced from Meta's Newsroom)

Facebook-owner Meta has petitioned a US federal court to dismiss the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) antitrust lawsuit that relates to its acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram.

In its motion for a summary judgment filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday, Meta said that “the FTC has failed to state a plausible claim, and the agency has done nothing to build its case through the discovery process to prove otherwise.” It added that the acquisitions were “reviewed and cleared more than a decade ago” by regulators. It acquired WhatsApp in 2014 and Instagram two years prior to that.

In December 2020, the FTC and more than 40 state attorneys general Meta alleging it illegally acquired competitors Instagram and WhatsApp in an abuse of its monopoly power. That lawsuit was dismissed in June 2021 by a federal judge. Less than two months later, the FTC filed an amended lawsuit that it said demonstrated that Meta since 2011 had maintained “a dominant share of the relevant market for US personal social networking services.”

Social networking sites (Image: Sourced from Unsplash)

In a blogpost posted on Friday by Jennifer Newstead, Meta’s chief legal officer, she noted that: “After more than a year of pre-complaint investigation and two years of extensive litigation discovery, it is more apparent than ever that the FTC cannot prove any of these claims.

“The FTC has no evidence establishing that Meta’s conduct was ‘exclusionary’ – which is defined as conduct that actually caused harm to competition and consumers. Attempting to prove its case, the FTC relies solely on speculative claims that having more competitors may be better and that consumers would have benefitted more if Instagram and WhatsApp had been left without Meta’s resources. The law rightly requires more than speculation.”

Meta added that its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp have instead benefitted consumers and businesses. It cited that at the time of Instagram’s acquisition, it had just 2 per cent of the current number of users. As for WhatsApp, it contends that it was responsible for adding vital features to it post the acquisition including the introduction of video and voice calling.

Meta went on to claim that the FTC’s decision to revisit its lawsuit that was originally dismissed in 2021 “is tantamount to announcing that no sale will ever be final.”

Irrespective of the latest challenge by Meta, it still faces other legal challenges within the US. Recently, a US court struck down a plea to postpone the reopening of an examination by the FTC into alleged privacy breaches within its Facebook division. The decision related to the FTC taking another look into a 2020 privacy settlement covering allegations that the company breached terms after receiving a A$7.6 billion penalty in 2023.



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