Facebook was given a major win in court as a federal judge dismissed antitrust suits brought forward by 46 attorneys general as well as the Federal Trade Commission, ensuring the social media giant will have to make no changes in response to criticisms of monopoly power.
For years lawmakers have accused social media behemoths like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube of engaging in monopoly-like practices, as well as engaging in censorship, particularly against conservatives, but have yet to put any kind of regulations in place. With this latest victory for Facebook, it doesn’t seem like the company has any intention of changing how it operates.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg granted Facebook’s motion to dismiss, citing the FTC’s lack of evidence that the company, in fact, has monopoly power.
“The FTC has failed to plead enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of all of its Section 2 claims — namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking (PSN) Services,” Judge Boasberg said in his ruling. “The Complaint contains nothing on that score save the naked allegation that the company has had and still has a ‘dominant share of th[at] market (in excess of 60%).’”
The ruling essentially states that having a widely popular website doesn’t equate to running a monopoly. The other problem Boasberg had was exactly how this 60% figure came to be. Without offering any kind of methodology as to how they reached this 60%, Boasberg was left to assume this was just a guess, and that the FTC has no way of calculating this figure.
“In this unusual context, the FTC’s inability to offer any indication of the metric(s) or method(s) it used to calculate Facebook’s market share renders its vague “60%-plus” assertion too speculative and conclusory to go forward,” Boasberg continued. “Because this defect could conceivably be overcome by re-pleading, however, the Court will dismiss only the Complaint, not the case, and will do so without prejudice to allow Plaintiff to file an amended Complaint.”
The Federal Trade Commission will get another chance next month to explain how they reached the market share figure of 60%, but even if they are successful, their challenge of Facebook to allow competing apps to work with Facebook is dead on arrival, as Boasberg says there’s “nothing unlawful about having such a policy in general.”
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are putting together their own plan of attack against big tech in an effort to protect speech from being censored on what were once considered open platforms. In a letter to House Republicans, McCarthy laid out the framework for regulating these companies.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 27, 2021
“Our framework would rein in Big Tech and end their abusive practices, including by changing the law so that Americans can challenge Big Tech directly for their infringement of public speech rights,” he said in the letter. “This effort starts by taking away the liability shield Big Tech has hidden behind for far too long.”
“Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would be changed to limit liability protections for moderation of speech that is not protected by the First Amendment and would preclude Big Tech from discriminating against Americans based on their political affiliation. We would also require regular reauthorization of Section 230 so Congress may update regulations of the constantly-evolving internet landscape,” the letter continued.
McCarthy tweeted that it’s “past time to rein in Big Tech” on Tuesday.
Big Tech behemoths were once the gold standard of entrepreneurism and innovation. They took on incumbents, created new services, and transformed what our economy looks like today.
But their idea of competition is now corrupted, and it’s past time to rein in Big Tech.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) June 29, 2021
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, the Ranking Member of the Antitrust Subcommittee, said Republicans must “engage in antitrust reform to break up Big Tech’s monopoly power.”
I’m very interested in reforming Section 230 to take away Big Tech’s liability shield.
However, Republicans must also engage in antitrust reform to break up Big Tech’s monopoly power.
These reforms are not exclusive. We can do both.
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) June 28, 2021
Former President Donald Trump vowed in his Wellington, Ohio rally that “we will break up Big Tech monopolies.”
“We will break up Big Tech monopolies.” — President Trumppic.twitter.com/xjWMMGYmJd
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) June 27, 2021
Even Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, long a critic of corporate monopolies, spoke out about the need for stronger antitrust laws following the court decision in Facebook’s favor.
Anybody on the internet knows that Facebook has monopoly power. They control 85% of social network traffic, bulldoze competition, and undermine our democracy. We need stronger antitrust laws to #BreakUpBigTech and finally unwind mergers like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. https://t.co/Ldxb7zMj47
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 28, 2021
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