Currently under investigation for possible antitrust violations, Facebook may be forced to move away from its plans to further integrate its family of social media apps, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the FTC is considering seeking an injunction against the company’s plans to tie its services closer together, partly because it would make it harder to eventually split up the company in case of a strict antitrust ruling.
The world’s largest social media company first announced plans to further integrate its platforms in a blog post in March, saying that “people should be able to use any of our apps to reach their friends, and they should be able to communicate across networks easily and securely”. Aside from the fact that such interoperability would make it harder to break up the services in case of an eventual ruling in this direction, the FTC is apparently concerned with eventual implications on the competitive landscape.
As Facebook would presumably limit this interoperability to its own services, it would tilt the playing field even further in its direction. In its most recent earnings report, Facebook said that 2.2 billion people use at least one of its platforms every day. Even its smallest platform in terms of monthly active users, Instagram, has more than a billion users. That’s more users than its U.S. competitors Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat have combined.