State AGs appeal dismissal of their antitrust suit against Facebook

FAN Editor

New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a “Defend Democracy” rally, taking place on the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., January 6, 2022.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

A coalition of attorneys general from nearly 50 states and territories appealed a judge’s dismissal of its antitrust case against Facebook in a new filing on Friday.

The states, led by New York AG Letitia James, argued the judge wrongly dismissed their case, which alleged Facebook, now known as Meta, illegally maintained monopoly power and made unlawful acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp to foreclose competition.

In June, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg wrote that the long period of time the states waited to challenge the acquisitions was unprecedented on the state level and said its claims about Facebook’s attempt to amass power through its data policies were not illegal under antitrust law.

The states argue in their appeal that the court’s determination of an unreasonable delay in filing its case “does not apply against sovereign States suing to protect the public interest, like the States here.” They also wrote that the judge erred in determining Facebook’s data policies could not violate antitrust law.

Additionally, the states argued the district court judge wrongly presumed Facebook stopped the alleged unlawful behavior on its platform by 2018 and that injunctive relief should not be available in that case. But the states argued unlawful conduct continued and that the relief remains available even after the conduct stops.

At the same time that he dismissed the states’ case, Boasberg dismissed a similar complaint from the Federal Trade Commission, filed the same day as the states’ case, but he gave the agency another chance to make its argument. Earlier this week, he granted the FTC the ability to move forward with its case, after it filed a beefed-up version of its complaint addressing most of his qualms.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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