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FTC Considers Seeking Injunction to Block Facebook from Integrating Messaging Apps

Federal Trade Commission seal is seen at a news conference in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly considering requesting a preliminary injunction against Facebook to block the company from integrating its various messaging applications.

The injunction would stop Facebook from combining the technology supporting WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger in the interest of preventing the mammoth social media company from becoming harder to potentially break up if the FTC decides it has stifled competition, the New York Times reported Thursday.

If Facebook combines the apps, the platform’s more than 2.7 billion users would be able to access the same messages on all three messaging services.

Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram raised eyebrows of critics who worry that “serial defensive acquisitions” by large companies including Google and Amazon pose competition concerns. Facebook said in July that the FTC was investigating the Silicon Valley company over potential antitrust issues.

The FTC would need a majority of its five members to apply for the injunction and would need to sue for it in federal court. The commission is expected to make a decision on the matter next month.

Lawmakers have also expressed concerns this year that the enormous tech companies are engaging in “anti-competitive conduct” and called for their breakup.

“The open internet has delivered enormous benefits to Americans, including a surge of economic opportunity, massive investment, and new pathways for education online,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said in June. “But there is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications.”

Facebook CEO has argued that breaking up his company would not solve the problems critics think it would.

“The question that I think we have to grapple with is that breaking up these companies wouldn’t make any of those problems better,” Zuckerberg said. “The amount that we’re investing in safety and security is greater than the whole revenue of our company was earlier this decade when we went public, so it just would not have been possible to do the things we’re doing at a smaller scale.”

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