Facebook Seeks Boost From Google's Antitrust Victory

Facebook is hoping to get a boost in its own antitrust battles from Google's recent victory in antitrust claims brought by advertisers.

This week Facebook called U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg's attention to the pro-Google decision, arguing it "bears on several arguments in Facebook’s pending motion to dismiss.”

Boasberg, a federal judge in Washington, D.C, is presiding over antitrust lawsuits filed against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 attorneys general. T

he cases by the FTC and states are proceeding separately, but both center on the claim that Facebook violated laws aimed at protecting competition by purchasing social-media service Instagram (acquired for $1 billion in 2012) and messaging service WhatsApp (bought for $19 billion in 2014).

Facebook previously urged Boasberg to dismiss those cases for a host of reasons, including that the government's antitrust theories don't account for the wide varieties of online ads.



“The FTC’s one-count monopolization case against Facebook utterly ignores the reality of the dynamic, intensely competitive high-tech industry in which Facebook operates,” the company wrote earlier this year, in a motion to dismiss the FTC's lawsuit.

Facebook is now telling Boasberg that a judge in California accepted a similar argument by Google.

In that matter, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman in the Northern District of California dismissed claims by advertisers who said the company monopolized the market for programmatic online display advertising.

Freeman said in her ruling that the advertisers' antitrust theories didn't take into account that many companies sell online display ads.

“The court is particularly concerned that plaintiffs’ market excludes social-media display advertising and direct negotiations,” she wrote.

Freeman's decision and reasoning “support Facebook’s argument that deficiencies in the FTC’s alleged market warrant dismissal,” Facebook wrote in papers filed with Boasberg on Monday. The company makes the same argument in the lawsuit brought by the state attorneys general.

Boasberg has said he plans to decide next month whether to allow the FTC and states to proceed with their antitrust claims against Facebook.

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