CREDO Action

Tell the Federal Trade Commission: Time to break up Facebook's monopoly

Sign the petition

The petition to the Federal Trade Commission reads:

"A fine, even a big one, won’t be enough to make Facebook change. The FTC should spin off Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger into competing networks; require interoperability, so we have the freedom to communicate across social networks; and impose strong privacy rules that empower and protect us. "

    You'll receive periodic updates on offers and activism opportunities.

    Tell the Federal Trade Commission: Time to break up Facebook's monopoly

    Facebook tracks our every move on the web and through our smartphones. The company collects data through Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Facebook. It decides what billions of people will see as "news" each day and pays lobbyists handsomely to protect its power. And then, it turns our data over to right-wing organizations and sells it to corporate clients.1

    Most of us have no choice but to rely on some Facebook-owned service – especially since it either buys possible competitors or forces them into bankruptcy. Monopoly situations like this are exactly why we have government watchdogs.

    The Federal Trade Commission is currently weighing a punishment for Facebook's recent misdeeds.2 It's up to us to demand that the FTC be bold and protect our privacy and our freedom by breaking up Facebook's monopoly.

    Tell the Federal Trade Commission: Time to break up Facebook's monopoly.

    Facebook is embroiled in so many scandals that media outlets had to publish year-end lists just to keep track of the company's misconduct.3 Facebook allowed Netflix and Spotify to read private messages. It enabled Amazon and Sony to obtain users' email addresses through their friends. Facebook gave user data to Apple devices even when users had disabled data sharing. Since 2010, Facebook has made secret agreements to share private user data with more than 150 companies, from Microsoft to Ford Motors.

    Facebook has shown again and again that it will exploit its 2.2 billion users for profit in any way possible, even if it means violating its own privacy policies – or the law. British MPs even declared Facebook "digital gangsters."4

    Facebook has a long history of these kinds of abuses. In 2011, the FTC charged Facebook with eight counts of violating its own privacy agreements. The FTC issued a decree that prohibited Facebook from sharing user data without explicit permission – which the company went ahead and did anyway.5

    Now, the FTC is weighing its biggest action yet. But even a multibillion-dollar fine is a drop in the bucket for a company this big. Unfortunately, Facebook invests heavily in think tanks, academic research, lobbyists, and bipartisan clout in order to buy friends in government – so we need a determined public outcry to sway the FTC into bold action to break up Facebook's monopoly.

    Tell the Federal Trade Commission: Time to break up Facebook's monopoly.

    Years ago, the government recognized that farmers had no choice but to use railroads if they wanted to sell their crops. So it busted up the railroad monopolies and regulated the industry. Later, government watchdogs recognized that the telephone had become an essential part of daily life – so the government broke up the telecom monopolies, too.

    It is not a matter of simply deleting Facebook or refusing to use WhatsApp. These technologies have become core parts of our professional and personal lives – and Facebook deliberately kills any alternatives. We cannot let the FTC put the onus back on us. We need the FTC to do its job and break Facebook's monopoly into pieces.

    Tell the Federal Trade Commission: Time to break up Facebook's monopoly.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. "Freedom from Big Tech," accessed March 13, 2019.
    2. Tony Romm, "The U.S. government and Facebook are negotiating a record, multibillion-dollar fine for the company’s privacy lapses," The Washington Post, Feb. 14, 2019.
    3. Issie Lapowsky, "The 21 (and counting) biggest Facebook scandals of 2018," Wired, Dec. 20, 2018.
    4. David Pegg, "Facebook labelled 'digital gangsters' by report on fake news," The Guardian, Feb. 18, 2019.
    5. Lapowsky, "The 21 (and counting) biggest Facebook scandals of 2018."

    Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images