Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Under Intensifying Antitrust Scrutiny, Facebook Begins Merging the Infrastructure of Its App Family

Harry McCracken, Fast Company:

On September 29, Facebook introduced Accounts Center, a one-stop hub — still in test mode — where users can view and change settings across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, including the ability to log into each service and automatically cross-post among them. Now it’s also beginning to push out a new version of Instagram’s messaging features that’s based on Messenger rather being its own self-contained entity. Users on both services will be able to chat with Messenger and Instagram friends from either app.

[…] VP of product and social good Naomi Gleit, who wrote about Facebook in her Stanford thesis and then joined the company in 2005 when it was less than a year and half old, still laments “the gap between what people think that our intentions are and what our intentions are.” But the fact remains that Facebook is combining its apps into one even bigger, formidable network at the same time that many are questioning whether it should exist at all in its current form.

Jeff Horwitz, Wall Street Journal:

A government effort to break up Facebook Inc. from Instagram and WhatsApp would defy established law, cost billions of dollars and harm consumers, according to a paper company lawyers have prepared in the wake of rising antitrust legal threats.

[…]

Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 were examined by the Federal Trade Commission, which closed its reviews without issuing an objection. The company made big investments to boost growth on those platforms and they now share numerous operations that are integrated. In the paper, Facebook says unwinding the deals would be nearly impossible to achieve, forcing the company to spend billions of dollars maintaining separate systems, weakening security and harming users’ experience.

Instagram’s photo hosting was moved from AWS to Facebook’s in-house solution about six years ago, and Facebook has only attempted to tighten the integration of its products ever since. Breaking them up would be as difficult as separating YouTube from Google.

That is not a good argument for why it should not be done.