January 28, 2023

Government Antitrust Lawsuits Against Facebook Thrown Out by Federal Judge

WASHINGTON—A federal judge dismissed antitrust lawsuits against Facebook Inc. filed by the U.S. government and most states, a major win for the company before the cases even got off the ground.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington on Monday granted the social-media giant’s requests to dismiss lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general in December. The dismissals, which came in a pair of rulings, came before any pretrial proceedings had progressed.

Judge Boasberg said the FTC’s lawsuit was “legally insufficient” because it didn’t plead enough allegations to support monopolization claims against Facebook. The judge, however, said the commission can try again and gave it 30 days to attempt to file an amended lawsuit.

The judge dismissed the case brought by 46 states in its entirety, largely on the grounds that the attorneys general waited too long to bring their claims.

The rulings dealt a direct, early blow to bipartisan government efforts to pursue Big Tech giants on allegations they have unlawfully monopolized the marketplace. They also served as a reminder that antitrust cases—particularly against dynamic tech-sector firms that offer free, nontraditional products—can be difficult to win before federal courts that have narrowed the reach of antitrust laws over several decades.

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