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Antitrust: setback in court for the US authorities against Facebook

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The US competition authority as well as 48 US states and territories on Monday lost a legal round against Facebook, which they accuse of anti-competitive practices. Result: the group’s action skyrocketed.

A US judge inflicted a setback on the country’s authorities who accused Facebook of anti-competitive practices by dismissing complaints filed in late 2020 on Monday, pushing the social network above $ 1 trillion in market capitalization for the first time.

The US competition authority (FTC) and prosecutors representing 48 states and territories believed that Facebook was abusing its dominant position and its well-filled coffers to oust competition, including asking the courts to force the company to shut down. separate from Instagram and WhatsApp.

But according to Judge James Boasberg, “the FTC failed to present enough facts to plausibly establish” that the group really had monopoly power over social media. The agency’s complaint “says next to nothing concrete on the key issue of Facebook’s real power (…), it’s almost as if the agency expects the court to quietly approve the widespread idea according to which Facebook is a monopoly “, notes the magistrate in his argument.

Regarding the allegations made by the attorneys general against Facebook’s takeovers of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, the judge considered that, filed in 2020, they were far too late.

He also claimed that the policy according to which Facebook prevented the transfer of data to competing applications like Twitter, TikTok or Snapchat was not contrary to competition laws.

The social network welcomed these decisions, which “recognize the flaws of the government complaints filed against Facebook”. “We compete fairly with other companies every day to gain people’s time and attention,” said a spokesperson.

On Wall Street, the action of the group of Mark Zuckerberg ended in stride up 4.2%, exceeding for the first time the symbolic threshold of $ 1 trillion in capitalization.

Open door

The judge, however, leaves a door open: if he rejects the attorneys general’s complaint entirely, he gives the FTC thirty days to present new documents to support more precisely his accusations.

These decisions come at a time when the American authorities raise their voice against Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, the famous Gafa. Other lawsuits have been launched in recent months against Google for abuse of a dominant position, and numerous investigations into the Gafa are still ongoing.

American elected officials are also determined to attack the omnipotence of these giants: a parliamentary committee last week approved several bills seeking, among other things, to force Facebook to let its users leave the social network by taking them with them. their contacts and personal information with a competitor. It is also planned to prohibit the colossi of the tech from acquiring competitors to preserve their market power.

These texts still have to go through the House of Representatives, with a Democratic majority, then through the Senate, where their fate is more uncertain.

With AFP

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