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US States Want Reinstatement of Facebook Antitrust Lawsuit

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read

46 US states led by New York are asking a three-judge panel to reinstate the antitrust lawsuit against Meta's Facebook. 

The call, released on Monday, highlights the harm perpetrated by the popular social media platform, which Barbara Underwood, Solicitor General of New York, described as harmful to the market economy. 

The lawsuit, originally filed against Facebook in 2020, would add weight to the case of the US Federal Trade Commission against the platform, which was opened at the same time. 

Barbara Underwood, who leads the group, including Guam and the District of Columbia, argues that treating the states as a class action was wrong. According to her, the states' action should be taken as law enforcement and limit when they can sue.

She challenged the US Court of Appeals' decision to throw out the earlier filed case because the states took too long to act as per the legal process of "laches". 

“Forty-six states, D.C. and Guam, have alleged that Facebook, now Meta, has used its monopoly power to buy or bury potential competitors,” Underwood stated. 

Further comments from the New York Solicitor General condemned the monopoly of Facebook, which she described as "stifling competition" and preventing the public from enjoying the benefits that competition brings. 

Alongside the FCT, the states are requesting the courts to order Facebook to sell two of its platforms, Instagram and WhatsApp. The platform acquired the former for $1 billion in 2012 and the latter for $19 billion in 2014.

However, the Facebook legal team led by Aaron Panner have kept a strong front. After successfully getting the court to discard the original suit in June 2021, Panner argues that the platform publicised its acquisitions well enough and its terms of service concerning third-party products. Allegations against Facebook indicate that the platform punishes apps under its franchise when they connect with other social media. 

Panner also clarified that the laches should apply to the case raised by the states. He maintained that the case which had failed to act upon should be considered more class action than law enforcement. He described the actions as "happened years ago and did not raise antitrust concerns at that time". 

Bloomberg reports Meta's spokesperson Christopher Sgro saying, "We believe the district court's decision dismissing the states' complaint is correct, and that there are no grounds for overturning that decision.”

Reiterating the news that Meta is struggling to keep younger users, Judge Raymond Randolph asked who Meta's competitors are. 

Facebook's lawyer Aaron Panner pointed to the increasing popularity of platforms like Tiktok and Twitter, stating, "Sometimes facts that are good for an antitrust defence are bad for (a) business."