Reasons for Favoring Facebook Over the FTC

In our antitrust survey, we presented participants with a summary of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) case against Facebook. This lawsuit centers on allegations of unfair competition, specifically surrounding Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram.  We asked survey respondents quesetions about the strength of the FTC’s case, who they’d favor, and why they would favor that party.  Below are some participants’ reasons for favoring Facebook over the FTC.

The FTC Approved the Instagram & WhatsApp Acquisitions

The fact that Facebook’s acquisitions were assessed by the FTC in previous years led many participants to think that the acquisitions did not violate laws because if they did, the FTC would not have approved them.

Facebook Received FTC Approval
"Very sadly, I have to agree w/ Facebook here in that the FTC cleared both transactions in 2012 & 2014. There was nothing apparently wrong with it then. I hate to say that b/c I greatly dislike Facebook & all it does."
Facebook Received FTC Approval
"It is a little sketchy to me that the transactions to buy Whatsapp and Instagram were approved and then later down the road seen as a threat. The argument doesn't hold a strong point since Facebook has proof that the transactions were cleared."
Facebook Received FTC Approval
"I'm not saying I disagree with the fact that FB has become a monopoly, but unfortunately, this is what's happened because the FTC seems to have considered the WhatsApp and Instagram purchases in isolated instances rather than their collective impact on FB's status."
Facebook Received FTC Approval
"Whatever their reasons for the purchases, the FTC cleared them to take place and it's a done deal."
Facebook Received FTC Approval
"Facebook did nothing wrong. If the government made a bad decision it is not the fault of Facebook, so why should Facebook have to pay for the government’s potential mistakes?"
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The FTC Can't Just Change its Mind about Approving the Purchases that it has Already Approved.

Other participants felt that even if Facebook was violating antitrust laws, the FTC had an opportunity to stop them.  Instead the FTC decided to approve Facebook’s purchases of Whatsapp and Instagram. 

The FTC Can't Change Its Mind Now
"I don't think the FTC should be able to go back and reverse rulings from years before."
The FTC Can't Change Its Mind Now
"Facebook went through the process of getting the purchases approved. I don't think it's right for the government to change its mind."
The FTC Can't Change Its Mind Now
"FTC now comes back and says, 'Oops! We got it wrong.'"
The FTC Can't Change Its Mind Now
"The FTC already allowed the sale to go through. They should have stopped it then."
The FTC Can't Change Its Mind Now
"The FTC originally didn't have a problem with it."
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Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions

Many of the participants approved of Facebook’s actions because they were part of a winning business strategy. Their reasons for favoring Facebook over the FTC were linked to their opinion that Facebook did nothing wrong.

Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"Unity is strength.' If you don't do so well in competition you might as well work in unity."
Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"Unity is strength.' If you don't do so well in competition you might as well work in unity."
Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"Being the CEO of the Facebook platform, I would buy other social networks that are my competitors and so my business grows without having to compete with two of the most used social networks today."
Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"It's a business strategy."
Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"The case against Facebook is nonsense. It doesn’t prove that they were intentionally trying to get rid of competition but simply trying to make more money."
Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"Facebook is in its right to buy other companies. If both parties come to an arrangement, why would Facebook prevent itself from buying other companies when it can."
Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"Fair competition, sometimes you win sometimes not."
Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"I favor Facebook because they did not break any laws, they were just expanding their business."
Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"It's business. The companies were willing to sell and Facebook had a good strategy."
Facebook Made Smart Business Decisions
"It's a smart business decision to buy companies."
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Facebook Did Not Do Anything Illegal

Participants who ended up favoring Facebook over the FTC felt that Facebook’s actions were legal and therefore should not be undone by the FTC lawsuit.

Facebook Didn't Break the Law
"No laws were broken or circumvented they received permission. It's like double jeopardy."
Facebook Didn't Break the Law
"Facebook followed the rules when they made the purchases."
Facebook Didn't Break the Law
"Facebook went through the process of getting the purchases approved."
Facebook Didn't Break the Law
"I don’t think that they did wrong by buying those two companies!"
Facebook Didn't Break the Law
"I don't think they did anything wrong."
Facebook Didn't Break the Law
"If they purchased something without any coercion then it is a fair sale."
Facebook Didn't Break the Law
"All legal. If there's skullduggery, then rewrite the law."
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Instagram and WhatsApp Willingly Sold Their Companies

Some participants saw the case through the lens of bullying. They thought that Facebook didn’t bully the companies into selling, the companies sold because they wanted the money Facebook was willing to pay.

The Acquisitions Weren't Forced
"Because he {Zuckerberg] did not force any company to sell."
The Acquisitions Weren't Forced
"Because they didn't threaten Whatsapp or Instagram."
The Acquisitions Weren't Forced
"If they purchased something without any coercion then it is a fair sale."
The Acquisitions Weren't Forced
"If they purchased something without any coercion then it is a fair sale."
The Acquisitions Weren't Forced
"I favor Facebook because these companies didn't have to sell to Facebook if they didn't want to. It was a fair sell."
The Acquisitions Weren't Forced
"I feel that if the executives were willing to sell their businesses to Facebook, then that is not Facebook's fault."
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