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MoveOn and other left-leaning groups are petitioning the FTC to break up Facebook

Key Points
  • A movement led by left-leaning advocacy groups is asking the Federal Trade Commission to force Facebook to spin off its other social platforms Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
  • In addition, it wants users to have the ability to talk across competing platforms and more privacy safeguards.
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A group of left-leaning advocacy groups has launched an initiative to ask the Federal Trade Commission to break up Facebook's major social platforms.

Freedom from Facebook is a movement asking the FTC to force the social media giant to split its core platform, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger into competing networks. The effort is being led by MoveOn, Demand Progress, Sum of Us, MPower Change, Content Creators Coalition, Citizens against Monopoly, Jewish Voice for Peace and Open Markets.

"Facebook unilaterally decides the news that billions of people around the world see every day," the organization said on its website. "It buys up or bankrupts potential competitors to protect its monopoly, killing innovation and choice."

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A Facebook spokesperson pointed out the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions were approved by government regulators.

The spokesperson also noted in a statement that Facebook is a "competitive environment" that allows people to use its free services alongside other companies, noting the average person uses eight different apps.

"People use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger because they find them valuable, and we've been able to better fight spam and abuse and build new features much faster by working under one roof," the statement said. "We support smart privacy regulation and efforts that make it easier for people to take their data to competing services. But rather than wait, we've simplified our privacy controls and introduced new ways for people to access and delete their data, or to take their data with them."

The salvo from left-leaning groups comes after Facebook has already been criticized by conservatives amid accusations of censorship, improper ad targeting and fallout around the data practices of third-party firm Cambridge Analytica. Some of the groups in Freedom From Facebook are religiously affiliated — notable since Facebook was accused by ProPublica last year of allowing anti-Semitic ad targeting. Those tools have since been removed.

In addition to asking the public to petition the FTC, Freedom From Facebook wants users to have the ability to communicate across competing platforms and more privacy protections.

"[Facebook] tracks us almost everywhere we go on the web and, through our smartphones, even where we go in the real world. It uses this intimate data hoard to figure out how to addict us and our children to its services," the group said.

A memo from FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra suggested earlier this month that the FTC would take a harsher stance against corporate offenders. In the past, organizations like Facebook were let off with a warning for a first offense typically without financial penalty.

Axios reported Freedom from Facebook will spend six figures running digital ads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms to promote its campaign.

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