According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the Federal Communications Commission may seek a preliminary injunction to prevent Facebook from integrating its messaging apps.
Facebook currently has three separate messaging apps: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. The company has made no secret about its intentions to increase integration and interoperability between the different products. In a post discussing the plans, Mark Zuckerberg detailed the reasons:
“I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform — because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing. But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.
“I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever. This is the future I hope we will help bring about.
“We plan to build this the way we’ve developed WhatsApp: focus on the most fundamental and private use case — messaging — make it as secure as possible, and then build more ways for people to interact on top of that, including calls, video chats, groups, stories, businesses, payments, commerce, and ultimately a platform for many other kinds of private services.”
Zuckerberg then goes on to discuss the benefits of integrated messaging:
“**Interoperability**. 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.”
Critics have argued that Facebook integrating its different messaging apps could make it more difficult to divest the company of those assets should the government decide it wants to breakup the social media giant.
According the WSJ’s report, seeking an injunction against messaging integration could help bring the government’s antitrust efforts against Facebook to a head, and accelerate any resolution. It could also help the FCC get a leg up in the process over the Department of Justice. The two agencies are both looking into antitrust issues with Facebook and whichever agency can move their case forward first will likely have a bigger role moving forward.