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Is Facebook a Monopoly?

Facebook has been in the congressional spotlight lately over a laundry list of issues[1] in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which has reignited discussions over whether internet giants such as Facebook and Google are monopolies[2]. Mark Zuckerberg has vehemently opposed this notion, but the user numbers of Facebook-owned messaging and social apps make a compelling case. Statista[3] recently aggregated the most current user numbers disclosed in company reports for Facebook-owned apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp) compared with Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Breaking down monthly active users across both desktop and mobile, the comparison is more than a little lopsided.

Add together Twitter’s 336 million users, Pinterest’s 200 million users, and Snapchat’s 191 million users (though Snapchat only discloses daily active users)–they don’t even come close Instagram’s recently crossed billion-user threshold. Facebook itself, despite slower growth, now has almost 2.2 billion users. WhatsApp and Messenger aren’t far behind at 1.5 billion and 1.3 billion, respectively.

Messaging apps aren’t an apples-to-apples comparison with social apps, but no other company has even a fraction of the active users of Facebook’s aggregated numbers across its properties.

That alone doesn’t necessarily classify Facebook as a monopoly.

But as Facebook grapples with its responsiblity[4] in the face of looming regulation that could touch upon digital advertising, data privacy, and numerous other aspects of its business, the company can’t ignore that the choices it makes carry substantially more weight when effects can ripple across so many users.

References

  1. ^ laundry list of issues (uk.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ monopolies (uk.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ Statista (www.statista.com)
  4. ^ grapples with its responsiblity (uk.pcmag.com)

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