Meta is facing another antitrust investigation in the United States, and the FTC received permission today to file its case against the company due to the acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, which the FTC says are specifically aimed at eliminating competition in the market.
Which, in a way, they probably are, but at the same time there is a strong case that suggests that Meta has embedded both applications in what they are as a result of investing in each, using its resources and reach to amplify both over a billion users. Now, the court will have to decide what the essential motivator is and whether Meta’s behavior is contrary to antitrust law.
The verdict is the annulment of the original finding of the Federal Court from June last year, which rejected the FTC case against Meta, because the FTC did not present strong enough arguments to suggest that Meta bought one or both applications as an anti-competitive move.
According to the June verdict:
“The FTC has not presented enough facts to credibly establish the necessary element of all its claims in Section 2 – namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the personal social media (PSN) market.
So it’s not that the court disagreed with the claim that Meta (then Facebook) was potentially anti-competitive, but the FTC case didn’t clearly show that Meta gained a significant market advantage as a result, as there are various other social apps and platforms that succeeded despite Meta’s efforts.
The judge in that initial instance gave the FTC a chance to re-file his case, which has now led to this new verdict in his favor, opening the door to new legal pressure that, if successful, could force Met to give up WhatsApp. and Instagram, which again makes them independent entities.
Although at this stage it seems far away.
In anticipation of such investigations, Meta is working to reform its business and merge its various elements, which would make it more difficult to separate each of them, if it were decided.
For the past three years, Meta has merged its messaging back-end to facilitate interoperability, which means that, in the end, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp messaging elements will work from the same system, and therefore can no longer work in a separate capacity.
Meta has also changed its corporate name, while also adding a clear, recognizable brand to all of its apps, which is another move designed to merge all of its services into one, connected whole.
Of course, each platform used to work separately, so theoretically they could do it again. But Meta seems to be working to strengthen its internal systems, so there is no easy way to break them all, which is likely to be a key part of its legal defense.
The target also has the advantage of time. He originally bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, with both contracts passing all the necessary regulatory requirements each time. Given that we have been around for a decade now, this will also benefit Meta, and it is also worth noting that the judge rejected another element of the FTC’s appeal – that Meta changed the platform’s policy to cut off rival services – because the problem is now too far in the past.
Time does not change the facts about Meta’s behavior, but again, Meta will no doubt claim that all its acquisitions have been approved by the necessary regulatory groups, each of which has assessed potential antitrust concerns and found no reason to stop the process. And with a decade of development, it is now too late to review the conditions of past jobs.
It seems like a rather difficult case, with some clearly relevant points, although probably not enough to prove, definitely, that Meta acted in an anti-competitive manner. In a way – well, really, the only way – Meta would actually look forward to TikTok’s presence at the moment, as TikTok’s success shows Meta doesn’t have monopoly control over the social media market, while Google holds a significant enough share of digital advertising to counter that element .
But perhaps, if Meta’s attempts to buy Snapchat had been successful, he would have been in a less defensible position. Not surprisingly, Meta has significantly slowed its acquisition momentum recently.
There are still many times and many, many pages of court documents and judgments to be read, but at this stage, it seems more likely that Metin’s empire will remain unchanged at the end of the proceedings.
Although interesting and relevant, it should be noted that the Federal Court has even approved such a case, suggesting further examination of similar technology acquisitions in the future.
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