A US judge yesterday dismissed federal and state competition complaints against Facebook that sought to force the social media company to sell Instagram and WhatsApp, saying the federal complaint was "legally insufficient."
Facebook shares rose more than 4% after the ruling, putting its capitalisation over $1 trillion for the first time.
The dismissal was the first big blow to state and federal lawsuits against Big Tech firms last year seeking to rein in alleged abuses of their massive market power.
Judge James Boasberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia said the FTC failed to show that Facebook had monopoly power in the social-networking market but said the FTC could file a new complaint by July 29.
He also dismissed a lawsuit by multiple US states, saying they waited too long to challenge the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively. The judge did not invite the states to refile their complaint.
A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General's office said it was "considering our legal options."
Facebook had asked for the lawsuits to be dismissed.
Regarding the FTC lawsuit, the judge wrote: "Although the court does not agree with all of Facebook's contentions here, it ultimately concurs that the agency's complaint is legally insufficient and must therefore be dismissed."
"We are pleased that today’s decisions recognise the defects in the government complaints filed against Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson said.
An FTC spokesperson said the agency was "closely reviewing the opinion and assessing the best option forward."
A bright spot for the FTC in the opinion was the judge's saying that the agency was "on firmer ground in scrutinising the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, as the court rejects Facebook's argument that the FTC lacks authority to seek injunctive relief against those purchases."
The FTC and a big group of states filed separate lawsuits last year that accused Facebook of breaking competition law to keep smaller competitors at bay by snapping up rivals, such as Instagram for $1 billion and WhatsApp for $19 billion.