For many of us, we see Facebook’s big control over our personal data through its main site, Instagram and WhatsApp as a big threat. The company has grown so large, that it is under investigation for anti-competitive behavior by the US government, and is also receiving lawsuits from the Federal Trade Commission to dissolve and break down many of its components.
This is just the beginning of a legal move from the FTC, which could likely take many years to play out in courts to see if Facebook is really is too dominant with its practices and needs to be broken down or have a change of business practices to allow for more competition in the industry.
Facebook has yet to officially comment on the lawsuits, though it will no doubt try and fight it as much as possible. It’s perhaps easy for them to argue that they simply have a better product than all their competitors and that is why they remain so popular. Given their acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram over the years, you could argue that when a company does get too big, they may choose to either find a way of gaining a competitive edge or simply just acquiring the competition.
It’s the latter that could receive the most scrutiny with The Verge reporting on a lawsuit in New York which is looking to reverse these acquisitions and separate the company into three smaller entities. Though the legalities, intellectual property, and organisational impact of this would also prove incredibly impractical and difficult to enforce.
Facebook is not the only big tech company that is currently under investigation from the FTC, with Google and Amazon also being investigated for anti-competitive practices, which could possibly in the future see them broken into smaller companies too. Microsoft obviously faced this many years ago when they were said to have abused their dominant Windows and Internet Explorer software to block competition. A move that eventually allowed the likes of Google to rise and now arguably do the same to others.
It will be interesting to see what becomes of the big tech giants over the next few years as their dominance and practices come under closer legal security from government worldwide. No doubt this action against Facebook is just the start of a bigger political struggle with the big tech companies.
Last Updated: December 11, 2020