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Facebook Stock Down On News Of Possible FTC Injunction Against Combining Apps

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Shares of Facebook fell almost 3 percent in Thursday's trading after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Trade Commission is considering seeking a preliminary injunction against Facebook amid antitrust concerns over the company's integration of its apps.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the WSJ reported that Federal regulators are closely monitoring how Facebook integrates its messaging services - Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp - or allows them to work with potential rivals.

Facebook had earlier said it was planning to integrate the three messaging services by unifying their technical infrastructure.

The FTC is said to be exploring whether such an integration would make it difficult to potentially break up Facebook in the future if the regulator determines some of the apps reduced competition in social networking and are anti-competitive, the report said.

The FTC's injunction, which could come as early as next month, would likely seek to block Facebook from enforcing those policies around how its apps interact with each other, and may even seek to prevent the company from further integrating the apps.

In a blog post in March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that there were privacy and security advantages to interoperability of the messaging services.

"With the ability to message across our services, however, you'd be able to send an encrypted message to someone's phone number in WhatsApp from Messenger. This could also improve convenience in many experiences where people use Facebook or Instagram as their social network and WhatsApp as their preferred messaging service," Zuckerberg said.

In June, there were reports that federal regulators would investigate the market dominance of some of the largest technology companies.

The U.S. Justice Department reportedly agreed to handle potential antitrust investigations related to Apple and Alphabet Inc's Google, while the Federal Trade Commission will oversee investigations of Facebook and Amazon.com.

The FTC, in July, had imposed a $5 billion penalty on Facebook for violating consumers' privacy.

The fine was imposed after the FTC investigated Facebook regarding allegations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users without authorization.

The FTC settlement order also imposed new restrictions on Facebook's business operations.

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