UNITED STATES: A large group of U.S. states, led by New York, argued at an appeals court on Monday that they should renew an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook’s Meta ( META.O ) because of ongoing damage caused by the company’s actions and because the states could not wait too long to file their complaint.
Barbara Underwood, New York’s solicitor general, who led the group, which is made up of 46 states, Guam and the District of Columbia, said it is wrong to treat states as a class action and set a limit on when they can sue.
Non-participating states include Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and South Dakota.
She said states’ practice is more akin to law enforcement, so “laches,” which prohibit unreasonable delay in filing, would not apply. She said Facebook’s actions hurt the economy and the market.
The states are asking a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reopen a lawsuit filed in 2020, the same time the company sued the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Both the FTC and the states have asked the court 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’s fight with Facebook continues.
Aaron Panner who was fighting for Facebook, was able to throw out the state lawsuit, arguing that both acquisitions were publicised at the same time, as were the company’s policies on third-party apps. Facebook has been accused of penalising apps on its platform.
He said the money should be paid because the state lawsuit was more of class action and less of an enforcement action and that the actions described “happened years ago and did not raise antitrust concerns at the time.”
Judge Raymond Randolph asked who Facebook’s competitors were, noting that the company was trying to retain younger users.
Pointing to the popularity of TikTok, Twitter and others, Panner added, “Sometimes facts that are good for antitrust defence are bad for (a) business.”