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Facebook Seeks to Dismiss Antitrust Suits

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WASHINGTON— Facebook Inc. on Wednesday asked a federal judge to dismiss antitrust lawsuits by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general, arguing that government enforcers have no valid basis for alleging the social media giant is suppressing competition.

The FTC “utterly ignores the reality of the dynamic, intensely competitive high-tech industry in which Facebook operates,” the company said in seeking to dismiss the commission’s case. In a second motion, Facebook argued the states’ case “does not and cannot assert that their citizens paid higher prices, that output was reduced, or that any objective measure of quality declined as a result of Facebook’s challenged actions.”

The company’s filings in U.S. District Court in Washington mark its first legal salvo since the FTC and 46 states sued Facebook in December on allegations the company has unlawfully preserved monopoly status by freezing out and buying up potential competitors.

Facebook will have to meet a high legal standard to convince a federal judge to throw out the cases before trial. In order to prevail on a motion to dismiss, the company must show that the plaintiffs’ factual allegations about the nature of the marketplace, even if accepted as true, don’t establish a valid legal claim.

The FTC and the states each allege Facebook chose to buy companies rather than compete with them, with much of their cases focusing on the company’s past acquisitions of mobile-messaging service WhatsApp and Instagram, the photo-sharing platform.

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