Facebook often comes under fire from President Trump for censoring content. But, in a rare move, 46 states joined a call that might result in the forced sale of WhatsApp and Instagram. Following the announcement, Facebook shares fell on November 10. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and states view their acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram as an unfair termination of competition.
Facebook faces lawsuits for buying out potential rivals
These days, it’s all too easy to get your account on Facebook suspended. But, sometimes, things slip by. Those people suspended complain their voices are being shut down. Meanwhile, others work the other way. We reported that racist comments about Kamala Harris featured for days before being taken down. So, the behemoth still sometimes misses content they deem offensive But the lawsuits by the FTC and 46 other states isn’t about censorship. It’s about fair competition.
According to Reuters, two lawsuits filed on Wednesday take aim at the social media platform buying up possible rivals. Aimed specifically at Instagram and WhatsApp, between 2012 and 2014, Facebook spent about $20 billion altogether when it bought out the platforms. But, it won’t likely force the sale immediately. So, expect a lot of legal challenges. After all, the FTC previously allowed the sales. In a rare united front, most of the states came together and decided on the legal challenge.
— Jimmy Dhawan (@JimmyDhawan2) December 10, 2020
Shares rocky as the news emerges
The outlet also noted that in response, shares for Facebook fell by three percent. Later, they closed at 1,9 percent down. Plus, whether people like Facebook policies or not, if they sell as demanded, it causes a lot of hassle. While alternatives like MeWe, Gab.com and Parler start bringing in numbers of new accounts, they still seem relatively small. Plus, they simply seem too slow. Facebook, like Instagram and WhatsApp, became the go-to platforms for communication.
The Sun.com notes that because of Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg now boasts a rank of being the “world’s fifth-richest individual.” Nevertheless, unimpressed with the money in his bank, NY Attorney General Letitia James termed the company “predatory.” Plus, their acquisition of potential rival companies is described as “a systematic strategy.” The basis of the lawsuits seems to lie in the fact that users run out of choices as potential alternatives simply become “snuffed out.”
— Shannon Alcorn (@ShannonAlcorn) December 10, 2020
Alleged anticompetitive conduct
Both Instagram and WhatsApp probably end up sold if the lawsuits work. Politico reminded readers that the Facebook behemoth started with small roots in 2004. Back then, it simply emerged as a way that Harvard students could stay connected. Then, it grew so large, that today over 2 billion users from across the world signed up for it. However, the “state and federal regulators allege it has grown into a corporate threat that uses its power to scoop up rivals and strangle competition.”
Facebook has yet to respond to the lawsuits. Check back with us for more as the story develops.