Facebook often finds itself in trouble with regulators over its questionable (at best) privacy practices. However, the social media giant is falling foul of lawmakers for another reason in an ongoing antitrust case. This week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has double down on its accusation stating Facebook is monopolizing social media.
According to the regulator, the company is either buying out rivals or crushing them to avoid competition. While the antitrust case has been happening for some time, the FTC has reinforced its position in an update this week.
The new filing is longer than the original and provides more evidence that the FTC says shows Facebooks monopolistic practices. It seems the regulator is going all out and wants the judge handling the case to force Facebook into offloading WhatsApp and Instagram.
In other words, the company could be forced to sell two of its biggest assets. Although, it is worth noting those very assets are part of the problem. It is hard to argue that Facebook is not a monopoly when it owns four of the top five most used social platforms. According to Statista, the most used social services are:
- Facebook Messenger
Only Google-owned YouTube is a non-Facebook product. Of course, WhatsApp and Instagram were both purchased by the company in multi-billion-dollar acquisitions.
According to the FTC, Facebook engages in “buy-or-bury” tactics to maintain control over the social network market. Going for the jugular, the regulator says the company does this because it could not “develop innovative mobile features”.
“Facebook lacked the business acumen and technical talent to survive the transition to mobile. After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat,” says Holly Vedova, FTC Bureau of Competition Acting Director. “This conduct is no less anticompetitive than if Facebook had bribed emerging app competitors not to compete. The antitrust laws were enacted to prevent precisely this type of illegal activity by monopolists. Facebook's actions have suppressed innovation and product quality improvements. And they have degraded the social network experience, subjecting users to lower levels of privacy and data protections and more intrusive ads. The FTC's action today seeks to put an end to this illegal activity and restore competition for the benefit of Americans and honest businesses alike.”
Because of its scheme, the FTC says Facebook can control market prices and push competitors to collapse.
Usually when a tech company is accused of these kinds of practices, you can find sympathizers. Call them fans or just people with a differing opinion, but usually some will defend the accused company. I scoured social media, reddit, and article comments and could find very little sympathy for Facebook.
In fact, I found a collective “duh”. Everybody knows what Facebook does and what the company is all about. For most, the question is why hasn't legal action been taken sooner?
Tip of the day:
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