Facebook, WhatsApp monopolizing our attention, mired in lawsuits for same
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Facebook, WhatsApp monopolizing our attention, mired in lawsuits for same

 Facebook, WhatsApp monopolizing our attention, mired in lawsuits for same

Facebook may be growing but so is resentment towards its monopolizing behavior of social media, app development and more

  • Facebook’s head of WhatsApp revealed that the messaging app has surpassed 2 billion monthly active users
  • 47 attorneys general from states and U.S. territories plan to take part in a New York-led antitrust probe into Facebook
  • A class action lawsuit against Facebook claims the company purposefully got rid of app developers it saw as potential competitors

Is there a day that goes by without most of us getting on Facebook to post, chat, watch, comment, or like?

Well, the numbers show that Facebook and its many owned and run social media networks, especially WhatsApp, are dominating not just our interests but also the markets where they operate.

And that is bothering a lot of people.

Read: 10 insights from Facebook’s earnings call

Massive proliferation

When Facebook announced that it was planning to acquire WhatsApp for $19 billion in February 2014, many people weren’t convinced of what WhatsApp could add to Facebook’s already impressive portfolio of social media and messaging apps, writes Statista.com.

At the time, WhatsApp had 465 million monthly active users (Facebook had 1.2 billion users back then). 

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Will Cathcart, Facebook’s head of WhatsApp, revealed that the messaging app has surpassed 2 billion monthly active users (MAUs). WhatsApp is only the second social media/messaging platform to pass that impressive milestone, with Facebook (2.5 billion MAUs) the other one.

Read: China launching the e-Yuan way before Facebook’s Libra

Antitrust, monopoly, whatever you wanna call it

While no one is questioning Facebook’s decision to acquire Instagram and WhatsApp for a total of $20 billion anymore, the world’s largest social media company is facing increased antitrust scrutiny, as many people think it has become too powerful. According to its latest earnings report, 2.26 billion people open at least one of Facebook’s apps (Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram) each day, which is why some people argue that they should be broken up into separate entities.

By Statista.com

The Anti-Monopoly Fund is a project launched by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who has called upon the federal government to break up the company.

According to CNBC, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced last October that 47 attorneys general from states and U.S. territories plan to take part in a New York-led antitrust probe into Facebook. Shares of Facebook fell 3.9% on the news.

The multistate investigation was announced in September and has since expanded to nearly the entire country to see whether Facebook broke any state or federal laws as a result of any anti-competitive conduct related to its dominance of social media.

Facebook already faces a separate antitrust investigation launched by the Federal Trade Commission in July, 2019.  

Recently, Four companies have filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook claiming that the social network company set out to purposefully get rid of app developers that it saw as potential competitors. Four third-party app developers say that Facebook has engaged in “the most brazen, willful anti-competitive scheme in a generation” by trying to dismantle their companies because they were using Facebook data in better ways than Facebook itself. 

Unrelated to that, on 18th February, a lawsuit between Facebook and the IRS kicked off, with the tax authority suing the social media giant for allegedly undervaluing its intellectual property and avoiding $9 billion in tax payments.  

Read: Facebook has been using your personal data as a hot commodity

Growing growing

According to Business Insider, Social network usage is still growing and will surpass 3 billion people worldwide in 2023. That equates to 43.4% of the global population, up from 38.9% in 2019.

Facebook will maintain a clear lead through the forecast period with penetration rising to 46.1% of internet users worldwide in 2023 from 45.2% in 2019.  

While growth is slowing Facebook’s appetite to money is not. 

Facebook's absorption of WhatsApp has reportedly caused consternation among its more senior staff. This is mainly due to the larger company's intentions to integrate ads into the popular messaging app.  However, it seems this change is now no longer on the cards.

But there is still apparently scope for ads within this service's Status feature, in which users can temporarily customize their profiles with text, images or videos.

Author
Hadi Khatib

Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it. [email protected]

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