The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a complaint against Facebook that demands the tech giant sell Instagram and WhatsApp because of its hold over the market. FTC’s complaint details how Facebook has a monopoly, and how it is difficult for other tech companies to compete. The FTC previously filed a similar complaint, although this new one leans more on the monopoly argument.
Facebook is well known for its dominance in the online tech space, buying up the likes of Instagram and WhatsApp before they could become competitors. Those apps also play into Mark Zuckerberg’s future plans for a metaverse. The VR platform will feature several apps all in one place, so it’s like Facebook will aim to hold on to both apps and likely buy others.
The FTC is basing its complaints of a monopoly on an email Zuckerberg sent in 2008. The Facebook founder said “it is better to buy than compete” regarding the businesses approach to competitors. Facebook has become such a dominant presence in the industry that many question just how liable the company is. Politicians recently criticised Facebook for blocking researchers from accessing the information needed to examine political advertising on the platform.
The filing also accuses Facebook of operating a monopoly for “personal social networking services” because of its control over WhatsApp and Instagram. The user base of both combined platforms makes it one of the biggest in the industry. Snapchat, the closest competitor, does not have a user base that comes close to either platform. Accusations claim the social media company acquires rival platforms to form a “protective moat”.
If Facebook continues unchallenged, the FTC believes it will continue to build a dominant monopoly. Rather than encouraging a social media marketplace that grows, Facebook could continue to buy competitors or severely hinder others. The FTC encourages the company to sell WhatsApp and Instagram. It also recommends the company is limited from purchasing other companies in the future, and that it should have to see approval.