Monday 20th August 2018

Coalition of advocacy groups calls on the FTC to ‘break up Facebook’s monopoly’

The group has launched a website and is spearheading a six figure digital ads campaign to target the social network.
Jason Smith
by on 22nd May 2018

A coalition of advocacy groups has launched a campaign calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “break up Facebook’s monopoly”.

The coalition is comprised of groups including MoveOn, SumofUs, Demand Progress, The Open Markets Institute and Content Creators Institute. It has launched a website, freedomfromfb.com, and, according to Axios, is spearheading a “six figure digital ad offensive” against the social media giant.

In Q1 of 2018, Facebook reported net income of $4.98 billion on revenues of $11.96 billion.

According to the coalition’s website, “Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have amassed a scary amount of power…Facebook unilaterally decides the news…buys up or bankrupts potential competitors…[and] tracks us almost everywhere we go”.

Its comments about “Facebook’s monopoly” are in reference to Facebook’s acquisition of rival tech firms, including WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 and Instagram for $1 billion in 2012.

While Facebook maintains a monthly active user count of 2.20 billion, making it the world’s largest social network, Instagram and WhatApp also boast users bases of 1.5 billion and 813 million, making them the third and sixth most popular social networks in the world, according to data from WeAreSocial and Hootsuite.

The FTC is currently investigating Facebook over the improper use of data between the social network and the now bankrupt data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica.

The social network also settled with the FTC in 2011 over charges relating to “deceiving customers,” that ultimately led Facebook being subjected to “periodic assessments of its privacy practices for the next 20 years”.

Some of the new coalition’s tweets and updates haven’t been met by any enthusiasm on the part of consumers.

According to one user on Demand Progress’s Facebook page, “You better leave Facebook alone or you will have to face the wrath of investors like me,” while another user stated, “Monopoly over what exactly? People are capable of making their own decision on whether to join or subsequently leave whenever they so choose”.

According to Axios, some of the ads run by the group include, “Facebook keeps violating your privacy. Break it up” and “Mark Zuckerberg has a scary amount of power. We need to take it back”.

The ads are running on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The effort targeting Facebook has been equally vociferous on the conservative side, with numerous critics over the last few years accusing Facebook, and other popular social networks like Twitter, of “bias” and “censorship”.

At Congressional Hearings earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed Silicon Valley is an “extremely left-leaning place” while Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Safety lead Vijaya Gadde, in a live Q&A on alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, recently proclaimed, “I’m not going to be able to deny the fact that we definitely have a lot of employees who have particular political views at the company”.