FTC Chairman: Facebook's Integration with Instagram, WhatsApp Could Complicate Antitrust Measures
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joe Simons said Monday that Facebook’s plan to integrate Instagram and WhatApp with its Facebook platform could complicate any attempts to break up the social media giant.
Simons told the Financial Times that although all options remain on the table to break up Facebook as it continues its investigation of Facebook, he conceded that the company’s merger with its subsidiaries could complicate any chances of breaking up the company.
“If they’re maintaining separate business structures and infrastructure, it’s much easier to have a divestiture in that circumstance than in where they’re completely enmeshed and all the eggs are scrambled,” Simons told the Financial Times.
Simon’s interview arises as he recently told Bloomberg that he could break up the big tech Masters of the Universe, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple, as part of the agency’s antitrust investigations.
Simons said that although breaking up one Silicon Valley behemoth could serve as a challenging task, it could become the right method to rein in the most dominant tech companies as well as restoring competition in the technology markets.
Simons said of breaking up big tech, “If you have to, you do it.”
“It’s not ideal because it’s very messy,” the FTC chairman added. “But if you have to you have to.”
The FTC has led a broad antitrust review of the technology sectors to see whether companies, including Facebook, continue to harm competition. The consumer protection agency has reportedly started investigating whether Facebook’s acquisitions, including WhatsApp and Instagram, was part of a business plan designed to take out its competition.
The FTC’s $5 billion serves as the largest fine against a tech company for privacy violations, reports have suggested that the FTC caved against Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.A separate report found that a group of state attorneys general might launch their own antitrust investigation of big tech, believing that Silicon Valley companies could be engaging in anticompetitive behavior.