American regulators are considering blocking Facebook from combining WhatsApp, Instagram and its other apps

Business Insider US

  • The US Federal Trade Commission is considering filing an injunction against Facebook, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
  • The move could seek to bar Facebook from further integrating its services and could prohibit it from enforcing its rules about how other companies' apps work with its services.
  • The injunction could be the first step in a broader antitrust challenge to the social networking company that could lead to an attempt to break it up.
  • Facebook has announced plans to more closely tie its various messaging services, including WhatsApp and Messenger.
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Facebook's plans to further integrate its various services could soon face a legal challenge.

The US Federal Trade Commission is mulling whether to file an injunction against the social networking giant that could block it from its plans to stitch together its WhatsApp messaging service with the chat features of Instagram and those of its core Facebook app, The Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon and Emily Glazer reported on Thursday.

The injunction could also block the company from enforcing its rules about how apps from third-party companies can work with its own services, according to the report.

FTC spokeswoman Betsy Lordan declined to comment on the report.

Facebook's stock fell on the news, down about 3%, to $195.73 per share.

Before it would take effect, the proposed injunction would need to be approved by a majority of the five-person commission. The FTC would then need to file a lawsuit against Facebook and ask a court to impose the injunction as a part of that action.

The agency could move forward with the plan as soon as next month, The Journal reported.

Facebook and other tech giants, including Google, Amazon, and Apple, have been under increasing scrutiny over whether they've taken actions that have curtailed competition in their respective markets.

Google has already been hit with three multi-billion dollar fines by the European Union's competition regulators for stymieing rivals in areas including shopping comparison services and online advertising. Numerous Democratic presidential candidates have called for breaking up or more closely regulating Google, Facebook and other companies.

The proposed injunction could be the first step toward such a move with Facebook, The Journal reported.