Policy Backgrounders
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Policy Backgrounders

CED’s Policy Backgrounders provide timely insights on prominent business and economic policy issues facing the nation.

Google and Meta Antitrust Cases

February 02, 2024

Trusted Insights for What’s Ahead™:

Federal, state, and private antitrust lawsuits against US tech giants, including Google and Meta Platforms—the third and sixth largest companies by market capitalization on US stock markets—are expected to progress in 2024, although the potential legal remedies that courts could impose, if the companies’ conduct is deemed illegal, and the impact on the tech sector more broadly, remain uncertain. The suits are part of a broader trend towards stricter enforcement by US antitrust agencies and a shift to consider the overall impact on competition, including potential future competition, rather than the “consumer welfare standard” that has been a focus of antitrust analysis for much of the last 40 years.

  • Google partially settled its case with state attorneys general related to its app store policies; a jury found for Epic Games in a related case. Now, the company is preparing for more significant cases brought by the Justice Department and state attorneys general concerning its online search and advertising businesses.
  • Meta Platforms faces an antitrust lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp as well as continuing challenges to its data privacy practices from an earlier FTC settlement.
  • Challenges by Federal agencies and state attorneys general are part of a growing effort by antitrust agencies to promote competition; this effort also focuses on other large tech platforms including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft as well as other companies leading their industries such as Visa, Ticketmaster, and Agri Stats. The efforts led by FTC Chair Lina Khan and the Justice Department’s Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter have drawn scrutiny for challenging assumptions about how monopolies harm consumers that have influenced antitrust policy for several decades.
  • The cases are important tests of the continued relevance of the “consumer welfare” standard to digital platforms, as regulators seek to broaden the scope of antitrust enforcement to encompass harms to potential competitors and the broader consumer market through anticompetitive acquisitions, policies for third-party developers, and other business structures that tech firms use to reinforce market dominant positions.