Federal officials are considering seeking an injunction against Facebook to stop the social platform from merging with Instagram and WhatsApp on antitrust grounds, reports The Wall Street Journal. The injunction could also stop the firm from enforcing its regulations regarding how apps from third-party companies work with its services.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice are already looking into Facebook for acting in an anticompetitive matter. The FTC, earlier this year, gave Facebook a five billion fine for violations of user privacy.
Hurting online competition
Now, the Journal reported that sources said that merging the three services could hurt online competition. However, actually getting the injunction would require that a majority of the five-person FTC commission agree and require the agency to file a federal lawsuit. The agency could go ahead with this decision as soon as next month.
“The advantages are that it gets things moving, and sort of forces things to a judicial decision very quickly,” Columbia University law professor Tim Wu told the Journal. “As opposed to having an antitrust investigation going for five years… The burdens of proof can be higher for the government, but if they’ve got a good case it can be advantageous.”
Facebook's stock did take a hit with this latest news. It was down $6.53 (3%) to $195.73 per share. However, such short-term changes don't say much about a company's overall success. Overall, Facebook has actually managed to raise its stock price from a year ago despite many scandals.