Federal Trade Commission v. Meta Platforms, Inc.
CourtUnited States District Court for the District of Columbia
StartedDecember 8, 2020
Court membership
Judge(s) sittingJames E. Boasberg

Federal Trade Commission v. Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Federal Trade Commission v. Facebook, Inc.) is an ongoing antitrust court case brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Facebook parent company Meta Platforms. The lawsuit alleges that Meta has accumulated monopoly power via anti-competitive mergers, with the suit centering on the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.[1]

The suit was filed on December 8, 2020, in conjunction with 46 states. The lawsuit was initially dismissed in June 2021, but was refiled with an amended complaint in August 2021.[2] The case survived Meta's motion to dismiss the lawsuit in January 2022.[3] As of February 2024, no trial date has been agreed upon in the case, with the FTC pushing for a trial in 2024, while attorneys for Meta argued the timeframe would be unrealistic.[4]

Background and initial filing

The case centers on Meta acquisition of Facebook's two former competitors—Instagram and WhatsApp. The FTC alleges that Meta holds monopolistic power in the US social networking market and seeks to force the company to divest from Instagram and WhatsApp to break up the conglomerate. The Federal Trade Commission said that Meta's actions prevent consumers from enjoying the benefits of competition.[5]

On December 8, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission, along with 46 US states (all excluding Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and South Dakota), the District of Columbia and the territory of Guam, launched the antitrust lawsuit against Meta.[6]


Initial complaint from the Federal Trade Commission (2020)

On June 28, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the FTC's complaint, as legally insufficient.[7] A December 2021 New Yorker profile of Lina Khan, the Biden-appointed chair of the FTC, describes the court's decision as "a harsh criticism of how Khan's predecessors [the Trump-appointed FTC Commissioners] had written their complaint." According to the article, the decision argued that the FTC "had provided no proof for its assertion that Facebook held a monopoly position in social networking, but, instead, seemed to assume that everyone simply saw it that way."[8]

However, following a new amended complaint from the FTC on August 19, 2021,[2][9][10] presiding judge James E. Boasberg, denied Meta's motion to dismiss the case on January 11, 2022. Meta had sought dismissal on grounds including that Khan should have recused herself from the vote of FTC commissioners to file the case, on the basis of her previous writing as a scholar and an analyst, which allegedly showed bias against Meta.[3][11]

Since the dismissal effort was denied, both the FTC and Meta have engaged in a discovery process. This has encompassed requests for information from Snap Inc.'s Snapchat as well as ByteDance's TikTok.[4]

Proposals for trial date

On February 23, 2022, Reuters reported that the FTC proposed a trial date of December 11, 2023 to allow for sufficient discovery. However, attorneys for Meta urged the court to delay the trial date to February 13, 2024.[12]

On February 22, 2024, the FTC told the district court that the lawsuit could be ready for trial before the end of the year. Attorneys for Meta pushed back on this, and cast doubts that a "case of this size and complexity" could go to trial before the end of 2024.[4]


William Kovacic, a former FTC chair, argued the case will be difficult to win as it would require the government to create a counter factual argument of an internet where Meta did not exist, and prove that it harmed competition or consumers.[13]

Related cases

In July 2022, the FTC filed a separate antitrust case against Meta over the company's planned acquisition of VR company Within.[14] Meta ultimately acquired Within in February 2023.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Kang, Cecilia; Isaac, Mike (December 9, 2020). "U.S. and States Say Facebook Illegally Crushed Competition". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b Bond, Shannon (August 19, 2021). "Federal Trade Commission Refiles Suit Accusing Facebook Of Illegal Monopoly". NPR. Retrieved July 29, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Bartz, Diane; Shepardson, David (January 11, 2022). "U.S. judge rejects Facebook request to dismiss FTC antitrust lawsuit". Reuters. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Perlman, Matthew (February 22, 2024). "FTC Eyes 2024 Trial For Meta Antitrust Case - Law360". Law360. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  5. ^ Kendall, Brent; McKinnon, John D. (December 10, 2020). "Facebook Hit With Antitrust Lawsuits by FTC, State Attorneys General". Wall Street Journal.
  6. ^ Feiner, Lauren; Rodriguez, Salvador (December 8, 2020). "FTC and states sue Facebook, could force it to divest Instagram and WhatsApp". CNBC. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  7. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (June 28, 2021). "Judge dismisses FTC and state antitrust complaints against Facebook". CNBC. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  8. ^ Kolhatkar, Sheelah (November 29, 2021). "The Enforcer: Lina Khan's battle to rein in Big Tech". The New Yorker. No. December 6, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  9. ^ Zakrzewski, Cat (August 19, 2021). "FTC refiles antitrust case against Facebook, says no other social network comes close to its scale". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 29, 2022.
  10. ^ FTC Alleges Facebook Resorted to Illegal Buy-or-Bury Scheme to Crush Competition After String of Failed Attempts to Innovate (Report). Federal Trade Commission. August 19, 2021. Retrieved July 29, 2022.
  11. ^ Frankel, Alison (January 12, 2022). "Facebook judge rejects argument for FTC chair's recusal: 'Courts must tread carefully'". Reuters. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  12. ^ Heavey, Susan (February 23, 2022). "U.S., Meta spar over date of antitrust trial". Reuters. Retrieved May 29, 2022.
  13. ^ Brian Fung (December 10, 2020). "The legal battle to break up Facebook is underway. Now comes the hard part". CNN. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  14. ^ MacCarthy, Mark (August 4, 2022). "FTC's case against Meta's acquisition of Within seeks to shape the emerging VR market". Brookings. Retrieved October 13, 2022.
  15. ^ Silberling, Amanda (February 9, 2023). "Meta acquires Within despite FTC concerns". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 31, 2023.