The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) antitrust investigation into Facebook could result in a preliminary injunction against the social media platform — and it might happen as soon as next month.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a preliminary injunction by the FTC, revealed Thursday afternoon, would prevent Facebook from integrating any more apps. The FTC is reportedly considering taking action against Facebook because of antitrust concerns.
An injunction against Facebook’s “interoperability policies” would affect how Facebook’s different platforms interact with one another, according to the Journal.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained how the company incorporates interoperability in a March blog post.
“People should be able to use any of our apps to reach their friends, and they should be able to communicate across networks easily and securely,” he said.
Facebook owns popular apps like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and has plans to essentially combine the messaging platforms of all three. The goal would be to provide end-to-end encryption across all of its platforms, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and the company has refused to create a backdoor for government authorities.
The injunction would stop it from combining those services and further integrating others, along with prohibiting it from enforcing rules about how competitors and third-party companies can work with those services. Along with Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook owns multiple other apps and services, notably Oculus VR, FriendFeed, and LiveRail.
For any of this to happen, a majority of the FTC’s five members would have to seek an injunction by filing suit in federal court. Digital Trends reached out to the FTC to confirm the reports, and we’ll update this story once we hear back.
A potential FTC antitrust investigation against Facebook was initially reported in August. The FTC was looking into whether Facebook tried to acquire its social media rivals before they would become a threat to its business.
The attorneys general of nearly every state joined New York in a separate antitrust investigation into Facebook. In total, 47 attorneys general are now looking into whether the social media giant “stifled competition” in a way that may have impacted user data and ad prices.
Another investigation from the Department of Justice (DOJ) is focusing on a separate issue from the FTC’s investigation, according to Bloomberg. The DOJ investigation of Facebook was announced in September.
The FTC, attorneys general, and the DOJ are trying to determine if Facebook is breaking current antitrust laws known as the Sherman Act. The Sherman Act outlaws “every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade,” and any “monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize.”
We reached out to Facebook to comment on the reports of a preliminary injunction, but haven’t yet received a response.