WASHINGTON — Nearly four dozen states on Friday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook that a judge dismissed last year.
In June, Judge James E. Boasberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia said states had waited too long after some of the deals under review were completed to file their lawsuits.
The plaintiffs, led by Attorney General Letitia James of New York and spanning the District of Columbia and Guam, argued in their appeal that states have more latitude in filing claims than private prosecutors do. They also argued that it was in the public interest for attorneys general to pursue the antitrust complaints against Meta, Facebook’s parent company.
The states’ central claim is that Facebook predatoryly took over competitors – notably Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 – in order to crush the competition. They also argue that Facebook harmed competitors like Vine by preventing them from accessing data and tools on its platform. The states claim that this harms consumers, who are deprived of more competition and alternative services in social networks.
“Time and again, the social media giant has used its market dominance to put small businesses out of business and reduce competition for millions of users,” said Ms. James. “We submit this appeal with the support of almost every state in the nation because we will always fight efforts to stifle competition, reduce innovation, and cut back on privacy protections, even when faced with a goliath like Facebook.”
Chris Sgro, a spokesman for Meta, said, “We believe the district court’s decision to dismiss the states’ appeal was correct and that there is no reason to overturn that decision.”
Legal pressure on Meta has intensified in recent days. The states’ appeal comes days after Mr. Boasberg permitted a revised version of a similar antitrust lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission to proceed. The FTC argued that the company employed a “buy-or-bury” strategy in its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp to create a social media monopoly.
Mr. Boasberg was initially skeptical about both lawsuits, but for different reasons. He said federal regulators hadn’t provided enough evidence to support some of their basic claims, such as that Facebook had a monopoly. This week he said those regulators cleared that bar in an overhauled suit.