During a recent meeting, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked to sell Instagram and WhatsApp. The request came from Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), one of the most vocal critics of the social media giant.
According to Hawley, he asked Zuckerberg to sell Instagram and WhatsApp to prove that he is serious about data privacy. In fact, he urged the CEO to sell them as soon as possible to show that he doesn’t need acquired companies to sustain the core Facebook product. Per him, this will also show that Facebook doesn’t need to gobble up companies to stay innovative. And most of all, this way Zuckerberg will also get to prove that he isn’t afraid of competition.
Zuckerberg Would Never Want To Sell Instagram and WhatsApp
Since its inception, Facebook has acquired nearly 70 companies, including Instagram and WhatsApp, in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Critics believe that by doing so, the California based company thwarts completion and maintain its monopoly position.
Instagram was bought for $1 billion, and it is apparently worth $100 billion now. Some believe it rakes in more revenue than the main Facebook platform itself. This explains why the company is so reluctant to let go of it. Similarly, purchasing WhatsApp was also profitable, and it now boasts more users than Instagram.
Hawley says there has been enough talk and now it’s time for action. He suggests that instead of feeding personal data from WhatsApp and Instagram to the parent company Facebook, these services must either be walled or mentioned before, sold. The senator also asked the Facebook founder if he plans to integrate Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Zuckerberg didn’t give a firm answer.
Hawley, who is also a part of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says Zuckerberg was not to keen on the idea of breaking up his companies. However, as various lawmakers have warned, regulators might step in to do the deed if the need be.
Perhaps that’s the reason why Facebook’s CEO met various senators as well as President Donald Trump last week. It looks like some sort of regulation is inevitable and by getting involved, the young CEO can have a say in the whole process. In fact, Zuckerberg himself had requested the meeting.
Facebook Is Not So Good At Handling Bias
Other issues on the agenda included content moderation. The company is also accused of having a bias against conservatives. Hawley had previously introduced a bill which will have a third-party auditor decide if the company’s algorithms are politically neutral. According to Hawley, Zuckerberg also admits that the company has struggled with bias for years.
President Trump has gone as far as to say that social media companies should be sued for anti-conservative bias. However, he termed the recent meeting with Zuckerberg as nice, and his sentiments were echoed by the CEO.
In recent times, the government has tightened its scrutiny of tech companies. The FTC and DoJ are currently investigating Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook for antitrust concerns. A privacy law is also under consideration so that people will know what’s being done with their data.
It seems Zuckerberg is aware that self-regulation will not be allowed. As a result, he is also in favor of new rules. Of course, he is unlikely to give in to Hawley’s demand about selling WhatsApp and Instagram. Ultimately, lawmakers and Facebook will likely reach a common ground.