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Facebook’s Instagram & Whatsapp Deals Face US Antitrust Suits

 |  November 19, 2020

State and federal regulators are moving closer to filing an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. 

The antitrust case would largely focus on Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014, respectively, and whether those moves helped Facebook build a social media monopoly.

State and federal lawmakers could also accuse the company of using its already huge supply of user data as a resource to beat competitor apps, the Post reported, citing those familiar with the matter.

Three unnamed sources told the Post that state and federal probes into the acquisition strategy of the Menlo Park-based social media titan are in their final phases. One question investigators are pondering is whether to argue in the expected lawsuits against Facebook that its high-profile purchases have had the effect of leaving consumers with worse services and fewer privacy protections.

With the text-messaging service WhatsApp, in particular, Facebook had promised users that it would preserve the messaging company’s independence and strong privacy protections when it was purchased in 2014. It made the same commitment to regulators, who then gave a greenlight to the deal. But Facebook reversed course years later and has sought to integrate its users’ data with the social networking site’s other services, a controversial move that has raised fresh concerns given the tech giant’s past privacy mishaps.

Facebook along with other Silicon Valley giants like Alphabet and Apple, as well as Seattle-based Amazon, are being investigated over their business practices. In October, the federal government filed its first significant antitrust lawsuit in more than two decades against Alphabet-owned Google.