Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch
A U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York threw out a lawsuit against Meta this week that had been simmering for a year and a half.
The suit, filed in late 2021 by now-shuttered social app Phhhoto, alleged that Meta violated federal antitrust law by copying its core features with the Instagram-adjacent video looping app Boomerang. Like Boomerang, which Meta launched in October of 2015 and later integrated into Instagram itself, Phhhoto invited users to share very short GIF-like loops.
U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto ultimately granted Meta’s motion to dismiss the complaint due to time-limits imposed by the relevant statutes of limitations.
“Phhhoto has failed in its 69-page Amended Complaint of 222 paragraphs to allege sufficient facts that cure the untimeliness of all of its federal claims,” Matsumoto wrote in the opinion, calling the possibility of any amendment to resolve the issue of the lawsuit’s timing “futile.”
In the lawsuit, Phhhoto alleged that Boomerang was the culmination of Facebook’s anticompetitive full-court press, effectively killing the smaller company with a copycat app that reproduced Phhhoto’s offering “feature-by-feature.”
In a statement, Meta spokesperson Stephen Peters noted that Meta was pleased with the outcome, maintaining that the suit was “meritless.”
The saga had a few twists and turns, including evidence that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself downloaded Phhhoto and made an account a full year before launching Boomerang. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, who led Instagram at the time, also explored the app’s features at the time.
According to the lawsuit, Facebook began chatting up the team at Phhhoto, even dangling a partnership — an offer that languished and never materialized. By 2017, Phhhoto was no more.