Facebook and Instagram Might Be About To Break Up
Add Facebook and Instagram to the list of power couples—Richie and Scott Disick, Juilanne Hough and Brooks Laich—that came apart during quarantine. Or plan to, if the Federal Trade Commission, which sued Facebook on Wednesday, December 9 for illegal monopolization, gets its way. The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction that could require Facebook to divest from assets like Instagram and WhatsApp.
Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for one billion dollars. But the FTC—in partnership with a coalition of attorneys general of 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam—has accused the social media company of doing so for the purpose of illegally eliminating their competition.
“Personal social networking is central to the lives of millions of Americans,” Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, says in a press release. “Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition. Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”
As writer Ryan Broderick points out on Twitter, removing Instagram and Whatsapp from Facebook’s clutches would cement its already increasingly irrelevant status with younger generations—and cost Facebook a whole ton of users.
Unwinding Instagram and Whatsapp would strip Facebook of around 3 billion monthly active users. It would also render them effectively irrelevant with Gen Z and seriously cripple their international reach. https://t.co/aK46I75uzu— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) December 9, 2020
However, the couple isn't kaput quite yet. Facebook will no doubt fight this in court: Mark Zuckerberg has long maintained that Facebook has not stifled social media competition, citing the rise of popular apps like TikTok.
Facebook and Instagram are not the Romeo and Juliet we wanted, but they may be the star-crossed lovers 2020 deserves.