Facebook’s antitrust problems appear to be growing, with the U.S.’s top consumer protection agency reportedly considering action next year that would effectively wall off some its products and prevent them from integrating them.
The Federal Trade Commission is considering seeking an order “as soon as January” that would prevent Facebook from enforcing its rules concerning app integration and how it allows its apps to work with potential rivals, the Wall Street Journal reported. The preliminary injunction would be sought on the basis that Facebook’s rules stifle competition, the paper said.
The regulator’s move is the latest step by the U.S. government to try and curb big tech platforms’ dominance, potentially opening up opportunities for smaller rivals that disavow bad behavior and promise to respect user privacy and data.
The company’s plans to make its apps, including messaging, interoperable across its main platforms is apparently raising FTC concerns, the WSJ said. Such integration may complicate future efforts to split the company. The FTC could either proceed with an antitrust action or seek an injunction over the interoperability issues, the WSJ said.
With privacy fears on the rise, the FTC has already fined Facebook $5 billion for misusing data. While presidential candidates including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have called for the company to be broken apart. Besides running a social media network used by more than a third of the world’s population, Facebook owns WhatsApp, the biggest messaging app and Instagram, which has been growing rapidly and becoming a bigger portion of Facebook’s total ad revenues.
The company has previously rejected assertion that it’s a monopoly and is fighting efforts to separate it into smaller companies.
Last month, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales rolled out WikiTribune Social, a news-focused platform that relies on donations to allow the network to operate independently. The project, which has already attracted more than 200,000 people, hopes to create smaller, niche communities and enable users to monitor fake news, manipulations and bullying.
- Ex-Facebook employees have introduced a new ad-free service called Cocoon, which bills itself neither social network nor a messaging app, but “a space” for interacting with close friends and family.
- Last year, alternative social media Mastodon’s membership surged amid concerns about Facebook’s use of personal data. Ello, once dubbed “a Facebook killer,” blew up after the social media giant started enforcing mandatory real name policy, alarming the LGBTQ community.