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US: FTC’s Simons says Facebook harder to break up now

 |  August 20, 2019

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons said that if Facebook has plans to merge Instagram and WhatsApp more closely into its ecosphere, it could be harder to break the tech giant up, if it comes to that, according to a report by Reuters.

The FTC has been investigating the social media company for possible antitrust transgressions, and Simons said that every potential option was out in the open, even while admitting that if CEO Mark Zuckerberg combined the three properties it would make the case harder to deal with.

“If they’re maintaining separate business structures and infrastructure, it’s much easier to have a divestiture in that circumstance than in one where they’re completely enmeshed and all the eggs are scrambled,” Simons said.

Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, and both properties have more than 1 billion users. The company has been under a lot of pressure from regulators all around the globe over its data issues and uses.

Facebook was fined US$5 billion in July over privacy practices for its users, and it said it would improve the way it protects user data. In 2012, Facebook violated a consent decree stating it would protect user information when it was involved in a scandal by British political firm Cambridge Analytica, where 87 million peoples’ info was shared without permission.

Facebook also recently pulled out of a deal to purchase video-focused social media chat app Houseparty over antitrust scrutiny.

The social media giant was supposedly in talks with Houseparty, but in the end decided the acquisition would be too risky. Massive tech companies are coming under increased federal scrutiny, and the FTC’s new antitrust investigation into Facebook has not made it any easier in that regard.

The Houseparty platform draws youth under 24 and features group video chat. Fortnite maker Epic Games purchased Houseparty in June by for an undisclosed amount.

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