Facebook asks for dismissal of FTC antitrust complaint

Facebook is asking a federal court to dismiss a revised complaint against it by the Federal Trade Commission, arguing that the agency has not provided enough evidence to show that the company is a monopoly.

In a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Facebook said the FTC failed to prove that it has a monopoly in the "personal social networking space" because no reliable data exists to show the size of the market or of Facebook’s share of it.

"The FTC’s fictional market ignores the competitive reality: Facebook competes vigorously with TikTok, iMessage, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, and countless others to help people share, connect, communicate or simply be entertained," Facebook said in a statement. "The FTC cannot credibly claim Facebook has monopoly power because no such power exists."

Facebook’s motion was filed on the day it and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms suffered a worldwide outage. It also came a day after whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, went public on CBS’s "60 Minutes" program to discuss internal documents exposing the company’s awareness of harms caused by its products and decisions.

A federal judge in June dismissed earlier antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the agency and a broad coalition of state attorneys general that were among multiplying efforts by federal and state regulators to rein in tech titans’ market power.

The FTC’s new, revised complaint filed in August alleges that the social network giant pursued a laser-focused strategy to "buy or bury" rivals to suppress competition.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg had ruled in June that the FTC’s original lawsuit was "legally insufficient" and didn’t provide enough evidence to prove Facebook was a monopoly. He dismissed the states’ separate complaint outright.

But his ruling only dismissed the FTC’s complaint, not the case, giving the agency a chance to file a revised complaint. In the new filing, the FTC laid out a detailed analysis to substantiate its monopoly power claim.

"Direct evidence, including historical events and market realities" confirms the allegation, the complaint says. The harm to consumers from the lack of competition "is particularly severe," it says.

The FTC did not have a comment on Facebook’s motion to dismiss.