The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly considering antitrust action against Facebook to block the planned integration of its messaging apps.
In order to further assess the implications of such integration, the FTC is currently considering seeking a preliminary injunction against Facebook, sources tellThe Wall Street Journal.
Facebook has made no secret of its plans to more closely connect Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Along with privacy concerns, sources tell WSJ that regulators fear a more interconnected Facebook would make an eventual breakup of the tech titan nearly impossible.
Additionally, regulators are concerned about how Facebook’s planned changes will stifle competition, while strengthening what many consider to be its monopolistic position.
What regulators might not fully grasp is that Facebook’s properties are already highly integrated, according to eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “There is already a great deal of back-end integration between Facebook’s properties when it comes to advertising,” she noted.
The WSJ's story does not make it clear whether a majority of FTC commissioners support an injunction against Facebook.
The FTC, the Department of Justice and multiple states attorneys-general are already pursuing investigations into Facebook and other tech giants.
Even if unsuccessful, some analysts have suggested these investigations pose a real threat to Facebook and its rivals.
“Our previous research showed antitrust lawsuits typically take years to resolve, but ultimately result in lower valuation between lawsuit filing and resolution and slower sales growth following resolution,” David Kostin, chief equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, warned in a recent note.
At least behind closed doors, Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear how he feels about antitrust actions.“At the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential [as a company breakup], you go to the mat and you fight,” Zuckerberg told Facebook employees in July, according to two hours of audio just obtained by The Verge.