Holly Vedova, director of the agency’s competition bureau, said in a statement that “the FTC staff have submitted a vastly modified complaint and we look forward to a lawsuit.”
Facebook said the judge’s decision was a partial victory because it rejected an allegation that the company harmed competition by cutting off competitors such as the video service Vine from accessing data and functions on the Facebook platform. That practice ended in 2018, the judge said.
“Today’s decision narrows the scope of the FTC’s case by denying claims about our platform policies,” said Chris Sgro, a spokesman for Meta. “We are confident that the evidence will expose the fundamental weakness of the claims. Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp made them what they are today. They were good for the competition and good for the people and companies who chose our products. “
The FTC argues in its lawsuit that Facebook gained a monopoly on social networks and illegally maintained it by acquiring competitors. The lawsuit focuses on the acquisitions of Instagram for $ 1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp for $ 19 billion in 2014.
In its amended complaint, the agency uses data from Comscore, a publicly available data analytics company, which shows that Facebook’s share of the daily social media market has exceeded 70 percent since 2016. For smartphone users, this figure rises to 80 percent per month, 86 percent for tablet users and around 98 percent for desktop users.
The agency said the company was able to achieve and maintain its dominance by buying rivals such as the photo-sharing app Instagram and WhatsApp, a popular messaging service. Instead of being innovative and growing on its own, the company took the competition out of the market and made it difficult for new entrants to enter the market, the agency claimed. These deals, approved by previous FTC executives, would have resulted in less innovation and a deterioration in privacy and security for Instagram and WhatsApp users, she added.
“The agency needs to back up these allegations in later stages of the litigation – likely through expert reports or statistical analysis,” the judge said. “But lack of evidence at this point does not mean undue speculation.”