FTC chairman says Facebook's plan to merge brands may make it harder to split

Published: August 20, 2019
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A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration photo, March 20, 2018. PHOTO:REUTERS

A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration photo, March 20, 2018. PHOTO:REUTERS

Facebook plans to integrate Instagram and WhatsApp more closely could hinder any attempts to break up the social media giant, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons told the Financial Times on Monday.

Simons said all options were on the table as the FTC investigates Facebook for potential antitrust violations, but added that any attempt from Mark Zuckerberg to combine the social media company’s three major brands could complicate any case, according to the FT report.

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“If they’re maintaining separate business structures and infrastructure, it’s much easier to have a divestiture in that circumstance than in where they’re completely enmeshed and all the eggs are scrambled,” Simons told the FT.

Facebook has been under scrutiny from regulators around the world over data privacy practices and how its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram process personal data.
Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, and each is now used by more than 1 billion people.

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Last month, Facebook said it would pay a $5 billion fine to resolve a government probe into its privacy practices and boost safeguards on user data.

The probe was triggered by allegations that Facebook violated a 2012 consent decree by inappropriately sharing information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

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