The state suit was signed by attorneys general from 46 states plus the District of Columbia and Guam. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and South Dakota did not join the case.
Facebook asked the court in March to dismiss both lawsuits. The company argued that it was constantly being challenged by competition, including new competitors like TikTok. She also argued that regulators had failed to demonstrate how the free services harmed consumers. The judge’s dismissal of both complaints so early in the process stunned regulators and Facebook executives.
Judge, James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, wondered why states had waited so long to try to resolve Facebook’s deals on Instagram and WhatsApp. The regulators hadn’t tried to block it when it passed. He also denied allegations that Facebook crushed competing apps by blocking their ability to simply interact with the social media platform.
“Ultimately, this antitrust lawsuit is based on public, high-profile behavior that almost all took place over six years ago,” he wrote, “before the introduction of the Apple Watch or Alexa or Periscope, when Kevin Durant was for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Ebola was the virus was that dominated the headlines. “
Judge Boasberg, who was appointed to his current post by President Barack Obama, said the FTC had not sufficiently demonstrated that Facebook was a monopoly. He said the social media agency’s definition was too vague, and in a reference to a court-dominant interpretation of antitrust law enshrined in consumer prices, he noted that the product was free.
“It’s almost as if the agency would expect the court to simply nod at the traditional notion that Facebook is a monopoly,” he wrote. “After all, no one who hears the title of the film ‘The Social Network’ from 2010 wonders which company it is about.”
But, he said, “‘monopoly power’ is a federal art term with a precise economic meaning.”