FTC could block Facebook from integrating messaging apps

News Technology

The Federal Trade Commission could force Facebook to back out of its plans to integrate its family of apps, including Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

According to the report officials have grown fearful in recent months that any moves to further tie Facebook’s products together could make it more difficult for agencies like the FTC or law enforcement to break the company up in any future antitrust case.

Sources told the Journal that any FTC action would seek to block the integration over competition concerns. In order to seek such an injunction, the FTC would need at least three of its five commissioners to vote in favor of the move.

Facebook first disclosed that it was under investigation by the FTC for potential antitrust violations last July. At this point, it’s not clear whether the agency will take action as a result of that probe. Any injunction to keep Facebook from making its platforms interoperable could be seen as setting the agency up for more extensive antitrust action in the future.

The Journal reported that an injunction could come as soon as January.

The Justice Department also has the authority to enforce antitrust law and is currently probing the tech industry for anti-competitive behavior.

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