Facebook Plans to Merge its Messaging Services Raises Further Antitrust Concerns

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Facebook’s reported plans to merge its three popular platforms and allow cross-messaging between Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram could lead to further regulatory scrutiny for the social media giant that is already facing several legal allegations, according to CNBC news.

Facebook is working to combine the technical infrastructure behind those three platforms, though they will continue to function as separate services, the New Your Times reported on Friday, citing four unnamed people familiar with the matter.

Although few antitrust lawyers said that Facebook’s new move is unlikely to bring new antitrust actions against it, public debate started to spread rapidly.

The company’s plans would be a ‘terrible outcome for internet users’, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s president and executive director Marc Rottenberg.

On Twitter, Representative Ro Khanna also wrote that there should have been more scrutiny at the time of Facebook’s purchase of other two applications which now clearly appear like these mergers that should have raised the antitrust concerns.

2018 has been brutal for the social media giant, CNBC reported, Facebook continues to face intense pressure over its privacy concerns and manipulation by third-party developers.

Attorneys of breaking up Facebook have suggested spinning out Instagram and WhatsApp, as these apps not only dominate the mobile traffic but also see an increase of 2.5 billion users each month. However, combining the back-end technology of these platform shouldn’t factor into that issue, Daniel Crane said, who is a professor of law at the University of Michigan.

As a matter of antitrust law, merging technology doesn’t have much impact and the way a company plans to organize its wholly-owned firms is not an antitrust problem, according to Crane, the biggest concern is Facebook was allowed to own three leading media firms in the first place.

In a period of three years, Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp for $1 billion and $19 billion respectively. Until last year, the social media player steered clear of regulations, when the extent of its privacy issues became noticeable.

Following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance in Washington, responding to numerous questions from the legislators regarding the company’ regulations, every significant move of Facebook has been a sensitive one.

In previous public statements, Facebook suggested its messaging platforms would remain separate which they largely have to date.

The new move is focused on offering fast, simple, reliable, and private messaging services that are also secure, CNBC reported, citing Facebook spokesperson in an emailed statement.

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