Facebook faces antitrust allegations over deals for Instagram and WhatsApp including acquisitions, other claims target the company’s tactics against competitors, as it is being sued by FTC, State Attorneys General, and 46 states.
The agency is seeking Facebook to divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp which it acquired in 2012 and 2014 respectively. But how do you prove people are being harmed by a product that’s offered for free?
As the company grew Facebook tried to backslide on its privacy commitments, but it faced discipline from a market that it still hadn’t cornered. In 2007, it rolled out Beacon, a product that reported your purchase habits on friends’ NewsFeeds and allowed it to track user activity even when they were off the site. The company discontinued Beacon after a year as Zuckerberg called it a mistake.
Today Pixel tracks users all around the internet just as Beacon did but without the ill-considered NewsFeed posts.
The privacy argument will at least get the enforcers’ foot in the door although Facebook may not charge users a fee, that does not mean users haven’t been paying a price.