Lawyers at the Federal Trade Commission have egg on their faces after a federal judge ruled the agency, in its antitrust case against Facebook, hadn’t made the case the company had a monopoly. Even more embarrassing was the judge’s outright dismissal of a case filed by a group of 40 states. The FTC’s case wasn’t dismissed, in contrast, and the commission was told to try again.
The milder rebuke of the FTC suggests the ruling may prove a mere speed bump in the government’s case, rather than a brick wall bringing the entire case to a halt. But the rulings are a reminder that, despite the deluge of coverage by the news media about the antitrust battle against big tech, nothing is guaranteed. And that has particular significance for the FTC’s new chair, Lina Khan, who is seen as a critic of big tech. She has previously argued that current approaches to antitrust law don’t address the scope of Amazon’s power. For Khan, and other tech critics, the rulings make it even more important that Congress pass the antitrust bills targeting big tech. (Here’s our more detailed take on the rulings.)