I'm not a fan of Zuckerberg, Facebook or the rest of the junk he peddles. I positively despise the way he accumulates swathes of our data, often without our informed permission, and sells it to the highest bidder. I hate his blasé approach to privacy, the sheer drivel that comes out of his products and that he provides a platform for nutjobs to accumulate equally insane followers.
But the recent action by US federal regulators and 45 state prosecutors seems harsh even to me.
They're asking the court to consider breaking up Facebook. Specifically, they want to undo Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.
Those acquisitions may have been monopolistic and they may have stifled competition, as the prosecutors suggest, but the acquisitions have already been approved by the FTC.
We're reviewing the complaints & will have more to say soon. Years after the FTC cleared our acquisitions, the government now wants a do-over with no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day.
Obviously Facebook is more concerned about the effect it will have on their bottom line than the effect it will have on "the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day," but they have a point.
The time to stop Facebook was back then and it seems tough on Facebook to start doing this now.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said:
For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.
No company should have this much unchecked power over our personal interaction and social interactions. That's why we are taking action today.
Whilst I agree with her sentiments, I'd want to know why the takeovers weren't stopped in 2012 and 2014 when they actually happened.
Facebook will have put a lot of time, money and effort into developing those products in the interim, and it just doesn't seem right to backdate action like this.
I never thought I'd see the day I'm defending Facebook. Perhaps hell has finally frozen over.