Facebook’s plan to merge messaging services ignites antitrust concerns

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify following a break during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Facebook’s reported plans to integrate its three messaging platforms could very well lead to additional regulatory scrutiny for a company that’s already under a legal microscope.

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The last year has been brutal for Facebook. The company is facing intense pressure over its privacy practices and platform manipulation by foreign actors. At a hearing of international lawmakers in the U.K. in November, a Canadian representative suggested antitrust might be the solution to Facebook’s problems.

“What we’re regulating … are the symptoms,” said Charlie Angus, Canada’s vice chairman of the House of Commons’ standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics. “Perhaps the best regulation would be antitrust.”

Proponents of breaking up Facebook have suggested spinning out WhatsApp or Instagram. The company’s family of apps sees north of 2.5 billion users each month and dominates mobile traffic. But Daniel Crane, a law professor at the University of Michigan, said that combining the back-end technology of the services shouldn’t factor into that issue.

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