Sandberg: A couple years back, the U.S. government did not oppose the takeover

Sheryl Sandberg, chief executive officer of social network giant Facebook, said on December 12, in reaction to the US government’s antitrust complaint filed this week that the US government did not allow the purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp by Facebook. Now it is time for these two purchases to be discontinued.

After being checked and authorised by the US government, Facebook purchased the photo-sharing service Instagram and the instant messaging app WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014.

Antitrust lawsuits were brought against Facebook on Wednesday, local time, by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of 48 US state and local attorneys general. According to court records, two US judges named by former US President Barack Obama while he was in office on Friday, local time, were determined to hear the two cases against Facebook. It could take several years for the case to achieve a definitive verdict, experts said, but the likely consequence is that Facebook will be forced to break its Instagram and WhatsApp.

In an interview a few days ago with TV talk show host Tamron Hall, Sandberg said,

The government has approved the two acquisitions. If a corporation is permitted to buy a company, but the government withdraws the permission after 8 to 10 years and allows the spin-off of the purchased company, this is a procedure for the United States.

For the business, that will be a real disturbing problem, because we won’t be able to go abroad and participate in the global market.

The remarks made by Sandberg are essentially consistent with Facebook’s reaction to Wednesday’s two lawsuits.

Antitrust litigation brought by the FTC and numerous states argue that Facebook has pursued a takeover or blockade approach to eliminate rivals and discourage the growth of smaller competitors. The complaint is especially concerned with the acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp by Facebook, forcing Facebook to separate the two apps. Sandberg defended the lawsuit’s claims.

Said Sandberg,
“Our business co-exists with other rivals’ systems. Competitor platforms include iMessage, Snapchat and TikTok . Of these rivals, many have become very strong in size and power, and are increasing very rapidly.

“I can’t even attract my own kids to Instagram to post because they are deeply attracted by competitors Snapchat and TikTok.”