When Facebook acquired Instagram back in 2012 and then WhatsApp in 2014, the Federal Trade Commission made no objection and allowed the deals to go through without any objection. The only caveat was that it reserved the right to revisit the deals later on. It looks like that time has arrived as the U.S. government is putting pressure on the social media giant to break it up and its other properties because of its influence in social and political spheres. But obviously, Facebook will try and not let that happen as they are already preparing their “defense”.
The Wall Street Journal was able to get a 14-page paper that Facebook is preparing to present if indeed the U.S. government will force them to break up their various assets. Basically, their position is that it is a “complete nonstarter” because it will be near impossible for both the company and the users as well. Aside from costing them a lot of money, a lot of their users have already gotten used to the integration of these products.
The FTC is reportedly preparing an antitrust case which is based on allegations that Facebook acquired the two companies to neutralize the competition. This is also part of the bigger campaign of government regulators to investigate and eventually limit the powers of Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon. They have called the big bosses in congressional hearings and heavily questioned them as to their business practices.
Some legal experts are saying that Facebook’s defense is “surprisingly weak” and may have no legal weight to go against the FTC. Another argument that they may use is that the FTC’s inaction over the previous acquisitions may also not be legally valid. So if they will indeed face action from the FTC, they will have to come up with something stronger than it’s too hard and to expensive for them.
There is no official word yet from the FTC or any other government agency if they are indeed going to pursue action against Facebook to force them to give up Instagram and WhatsApp. But who will really be the loser in case this comes to pass, Facebook or consumers?