The US Federal Trade Commission might stop Facebook from integrating its Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp services.
According to The Wall Street Journal, officials worry that Facebook’s goal of merging its apps and services together could make it harder for US regulatory agencies, such as the FTC, to break up the company should an antitrust case arise.
The FTC could, therefore, try to prevent them from merging, simply by citing competition concerns. But it would still require three of its five commissioners to vote in favour of an injunction first.
Facebook first revealed in January that it wanted to integrate Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp messaging. While each app will still exist as a standalone service, you'll be able to send messages from Messenger to WhatsApp users who don't have a Facebook account.
When announcing this decision, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believed it would give people more "choice so they can reach their friends" from whichever app they prefer. At the time, the use of the word "choice" had us wondering if he was trying to get in front of a potential antitrust case.
A few months later, Facebook revealed it was under investigation by the FTC for antitrust violations, and now, the WSJ has claimed that an injunction could come as soon as January. This move suggests the agency is interested in taking aggressive antitrust actions against Facebook.
Keep in mind Facebook plans to integrate its messaging apps next year. It's currently doing fundamental rewrites to how each platform works.