Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp logos

This picture taken on October, 5, 2020 shows logos of social networks Facebook, Instagram, and mobile messaging service WhatsApp on the screens of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southwestern France. (Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images)

Court Ruling in Facebook's Favor Seen as Reason for Urgent Antitrust Reform

"Once again, our antitrust laws have been shown by the courts to be woefully inadequate to address the abuses of the richest companies in the world."

Andrea Germanos

A federal court's Monday dismissal of lawsuits against Facebook brought by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state attorneys general elicited fresh calls for antitrust reform.

"Once again, our antitrust laws have been shown by the courts to be woefully inadequate to address the abuses of the richest companies in the world," said Alex Harman, competition policy advocate for Public Citizen, in response to the ruling.

At issue are two decisions from U.S. District Judge James Boasberg regarding complaints filed in December at the U.S. District Court for D.C. by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 48 state attorneys general, both of which accused Facebook of abusing its market power and scrutinized the company's acquisitions of the photo-sharing platform Instagram in 2012 and the messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.

"The FTC has failed to plead enough facts to plausibly establish... that Facebook has monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking (PSN) Services," Boasberg wrote in his ruling (pdf). The coalition of states led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, he further determined (pdf), targeted alleged Facebook violations that were too "long-past."

Boasberg said the FTC can file a new complaint within 30 days.

According to Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, the pair of decisions "clearly underscores why Congress must pass bright-line standards to guide courts as they judge unfair methods of competition."

A number of actions should happen immediately, she said, including for the FTC to file a new complaint and for the state AGs to appeal.

Lawmakers should also take as a model New York state Senate Bill 933, which passed the Senate earlier this month. According to lead sponsor Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, a Democrat, the proposal would shift interpretations of antitrust law by "moving from the existing monopoly standard to the 'abuse of dominance' standard."

Miller called on Congress to act because the "idea that Big Tech operates in a functioning free market can no longer be taken as a serious position."

Public Citizen's Harmon pointed to a package of antitrust legislation taking aim at Big Tech's power passed last week by the House Judiciary Committee as a step in the right direction.

"Additional reforms to the antitrust laws will be necessary to stop powerful corporate monopolies from harming consumers, workers, innovators, and our democracy," he said. "Facebook is one of the worst offenders, and it’s long past time for this company to be broken up.”


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Ahead of Canadian Election, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib Endorse NDP

"Bernie, you have fought courageously for public healthcare, affordable medication, making the rich pay their fair share, and tackling the climate crisis," said party leader Jagmeet Singh. "We're doing the same here."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·


40+ NYC Activists Arrested for Protests Against Banks Fueling Climate Emergency

"We're sending a message loud and clear that the little action that politicians and greenwashing CEOs have taken so far does not begin to deal with the magnitude of this crisis."

Jessica Corbett ·


FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Booster Shots for People 65+ and Especially Vulnerable

The scientific advisory committee voted down a recommendation for other adults.

Common Dreams staff ·


'What Betrayal Looks Like': UN Report Says World on Track for 2.7°C of Warming by 2100

"Whatever our so-called 'leaders' are doing," said Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, "they are doing it wrong."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo