Reasons for Favoring the FTC over Facebook
In our antitrust survey, we presented participants with a summary of the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. The lawsuit centers on allegations of unfair competition, specifically surrounding Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram. We asked survey respondents questions about the strength of the FTC’s case, who they’d favor, and why they would favor that party. Below are some of the reasons why participants would favor the FTC over Facebook.
Facebook Has a Monopoly Over the Social Networking Industry
With its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, Facebook controls three of the largest social networking platforms in the United States. Many participants favoring the FTC over Facebook believed that Facebook clearly has a monopoly.
Facebook Has Control Over Too Much User Data Through Multiple Platforms
After gaining control of the data collected by WhatsApp and Instagram, Facebook has access to, and profits from, immense amounts of user data. Going beyond personal information and demographics, these platforms monetize personal preferences to levels many users are unaware.
They Want Government Regulation of Social Media Companies
The industry of social media is novel and not yet regulated by the government. Many participants favoring the FTC over Facebook believed that because the industry is pervasive and lucrative, the government might need to intervene and set rules for social media companies to follow; especially regarding user data.
Negative Reactions to Mark Zuckerberg's quote: "It's better to buy than to compete."
Though it was a short quote, Mark Zuckerberg’s statement, “It is better to buy than to compete,” left a big impression on a lot of our survey respondents. Participants thought that Zuckerberg’s implied strategy was a clear violation of antitrust laws. Other participants had negative reactions to the idea that the company did not create and innovate but simply conquered by buying the companies.
Negative Opinions about Facebook or Its Executives
A common sentiment was that Facebook and its executives engage in unethical business practices. Participants favoring the FTC over Facebook cited Facebook’s dominance, the perceived lack of security of user data, and the perceived exploitation of that data monetized through advertising.