Monday, November 19, 2012

When Antitrust Met Facebook

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Christopher S. Yoo, University of Pennsylvania Law School analyzes When Antitrust Met Facebook.

ABSTRACT: Social networks are among the most dynamic forces on the Internet, increasingly displacing search engines as the primary way that end users find content and garnering headlines for their controversial stock offerings. In what may be considered a high-technology rite of passage, social networking companies are now facing monopolization claims under the antitrust laws. This Article evaluates the likely success of these claims, identifying considerations in network economics that may mitigate a finding or market power and evaluating whether a social network’s refusal to facilitate data portability can constitute exclusionary conduct. It also analyzes two early private antitrust law cases against social networking sites: LiveUniverse v. MySpace and Facebook v. Power Ventures. These analytical considerations and early case underscore the importance of requiring that antitrust claims be asserted in terms of a coherent economic theory backed by empirical evidence. Permitting looser assertions of anticompetitive conduct risks protecting competitors instead of competition.

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