Facebook Reportedly Weighs Antitrust Lawsuit Against Apple

Facebook reportedly is considering bringing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple over its recent privacy moves, including a new requirement that outside developers state how their apps collect and use data.

News of the potential lawsuit, first reported Thursday by The Information, comes one day after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings call that Apple “regularly” uses its platform to preference its own apps and interfere with Facebook's.

Zuckerberg specifically accused Apple of giving preference to its messaging app, iMessage, which competes with Facebook's Messenger and WhatsApp.

Apple's new privacy “nutrition label” system requires outside companies, including Facebook, to inform people who want to download apps like Messenger or WhatsApp about data collection.

By contrast, Apple's iMessage comes bundled with mobile devices, so people need not view a nutrition label before using it. (Apple has said it plans to place a privacy label for iMessage online.)

Last month, WhatsApp publicly criticized Apple's nutrition labels, arguing they gave iMessage an unfair advantage.

“While providing people with easy to read information is a good start, we believe it’s important people can compare these Privacy Nutrition labels from apps they download with apps that come pre-installed, like iMessage,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in December. “We think labels should be consistent across first and thirty party apps as well as reflect the strong measures apps may take to protect people’s private information.”

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the potential lawsuit, but stated: “As we have said repeatedly, we believe Apple is behaving anti-competitively by using their control of the App Store to benefit their bottom line at the expense of app developers and small businesses.”

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