The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly weighing a preliminary injunction to stop Facebook integrating three of its services.
The social media giant announced plans earlier this year that to tie together the backend infrastructure of its WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram Direct. This would let Facebook users message others on WhatsApp, for example, creating a secure, cross-service messaging platform.
There have been concerns with Facebook over anti-competitive behavior and accusations of a monopoly. This had led to several investigations, including one from the FTC which involves anti-trust concerns.
The FTC’s consideration of an injunction is reportedly due to worry that integrating the services could make Facebook harder to break up. By tying WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram together, the company would ensure a messy split.
Is An Injunction Likely?
It’s difficult to say if the FTC would go through with an injunction. Though tech giants have a long history of buying out smaller competitors, it’s become increasingly scrutinized in recent times.
Analysts at The Times say it’s uncommon for the FTC to undo mergers that have already happened. The truth of the matter is that much of the backend structure of Facebook and some of its other platforms are already intertwined, via its advertising and more.
An agency official speaking to the publication said the majority of commissioners would need to approve the action in a formal vote. It would also be under pressure to show Facebook had violated anti-trust laws or was about to. With the FTC refusing to comment, we’ll just have to wait and see if anything surfaces.