However, investors saw it as an important victory for Facebook, sending the share price higher. The values of the other tech giants – Apple, Google-owner Alphabet, Microsoft, and Amazon – have already topped $1tn.

‘Doing nothing over the last half decade’

Separately, Judge Boasberg also dismissed an anti-competition lawsuit brought by a coalition of 45 US states together with the FTC.

This lawsuit had also sought to force Facebook to divest Instagram and WhatsApp. It related to Facebook’s acquisition of the two apps in 2012 and 2014.

In March, Facebook petitioned the federal court in the US to dismiss them, describing the FTC complaint as “nonsensical”.

The firm said the FTC’s case “ignores the reality of the dynamic, intensely competitive high-tech industry in which Facebook operates”.

In his ruling on this case, Judge Boasberg said that the states did not provide “a reasonable justification” for why they had waited between six to eight years to decide to sue Facebook – an argument the social networking giant previously made.

He added that the states had failed to provide “a factual dispute” and only gave a “half-hearted contention that Facebook was not prejudiced but rather ‘benefitted from the states not filing sooner’, since it has been and remains a very profitable company”.

“Ultimately, this anti-trust action is premised on public, high-profile conduct, nearly all of which occurred over six years ago – before the launch of the Apple Watch or Alexa or Periscope, when Kevin Durant still played for the Oklahoma City Thunder and when Ebola was the virus dominating headlines,” wrote Judge Boasberg.

He added that the states’ allegations made it clear that the lawsuit could easily have been filed between 2012 and 2014: “The system of anti-trust enforcement that Congress has established does not exempt plaintiffs here from ‘the consequences of [their] choice’ to do nothing over the last half decade. “

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