Facebook Messaging Merger Prompts Of Security And Antitrust Concerns

Facebook recently revealed that it is working on cross-platform messaging between its three social media apps. Although the software rewrite is still in its infancy, it was immediately met with criticism and apprehension. Facebook’s intention of merging their messaging services has spurred concerns about privacy and calls for antitrust regulation.

The New York Times reported last week that Facebook was developing software that would merge WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger. The apps would remain separate, but their messaging services would be interoperable. Facebook’s goal is to increase user engagement and discourage users from turning to other messaging platforms. The software will likely be made available at the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020.

facebook logo

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has demanded that the apps support end-to-end encryption. However, many people are suspicious of Facebook’s less-than-stellar privacy track record. The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation into Facebook's practices last year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. They are reportedly fining Facebook for breaking a privacy agreement. Although an exact amount has not been established, it will likely be larger than Google’s $22.5 million fine in 2012.

A number of people are also concerned about Facebook’s social media monopoly. Facebook purchased Instagram in in 2012 for $1 billion USD and WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014. Together, the three apps attract 2.5 billion users each month.

Some have contended that Facebook should have never been able to purchase Instagram and WhatsApp in the first place. Representative Ro Khanna from California remarked on Twitter that these, “horizontal mergers...should have triggered antitrust scrutiny.” Many have suggested that Facebook’s monopoly should be broken up, but several antitrust lawyers argued that Facebook is unlikely to face legal action.

instagram smartphone

American antitrust laws were passed in the late nineteenth century to lessen the abuse of monopolies and encourage competition. The laws were in response to the new business practices and technologies that were created during the Second Industrial Revolution. Federal laws have been unable to catch up to the social media and technology revolution of the current era.

It remains to be seen whether Facebook’s proposed messaging merger will trigger an investigation or lawsuit. Lawyers and politicians have roughly a year to determine a course of action before the software is available.