US appeals court rejects bid by states to revive antitrust lawsuit against Facebook

Illustration shows Facebook app logo
Facebook app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Thursday refused to revive a lawsuit filed by states against Meta's (META.O) Facebook that alleged the company had broken antitrust law.

Dozens of states led by New York asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last year to reinstate the lawsuit, which U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia rejected, saying they had waited too long to file.

Both the Federal Trade Commission and the states had asked the court in 2020 to order Facebook to sell Instagram, which it bought for $1 billion in 2012, and WhatsApp, which it bought for $19 billion in 2014. The FTC case is going forward.

The three-judge unanimous appeals court panel said it agreed that "the states unduly delayed in bringing suit."

"The States were on notice of Facebook’s two major acquisitions. Both were publicized," Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote, noting that the FTC had investigated both transactions.

Meta said that the case "fundamentally mischaracterized" the level of competition in social media and that it would continue to fight.

"Moving forward, Meta will defend itself vigorously against the FTC's distortion of antitrust laws and attacks on an American success story that are contrary to the interests of people and businesses who value our services,” a Meta spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The New York attorney general's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Mark Porter

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