Government might try to block Facebook integration of Instagram, WhatsApp

Regulators are considering a plan to stop Facebook from further integrating Instagram and WhatsApp, a sign that Washington is ready to take drastic steps to police big tech companies, according to antitrust experts. Any regulatory action is still far off, and would face a number of hurdles, but in the most extreme scenario Facebook could be forced to divest WhatsApp and Instagram or rearrange its business relationship with the companies.

Such a move could also leave the company more vulnerable to being broken up.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Trade Commission could seek an injunction against Facebook in the new year. If approved, it would prevent Facebook from further integrating all the parts of its business—something critics say is a  strategy to make it harder for the government to break up the company. The injunction would be one of the most forceful actions yet against Facebook, which was already hit with a $5 billion fine in the U.S. this year over data lapses that left user information vulnerable.

Facebook declined to comment on the news.

Regulators pursued Facebook over its dealings with Cambridge Analytica, the third-party data firm that illicitly harvested profiles of up to 87 million Facebook users. Now, Facebook is under further investigation, with some lawmakers calling for the breakup of the company that is viewed as dominant in the social media space, especially since it bought Instagram and WhatsApp. Washington has been aggressively investigating big tech companies, not just Facebook but Google, Amazon and Apple, too…[Read More]



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