Facebook says breaking up Instagram, WhatsApp a ‘nonstarter’

Facebook views the idea of splitting off Instagram and WhatsApp as a “nonstarter” that would cost billions of dollars and harm users, a new report says.

The social-media giant has outlined its arguments against undoing two of its biggest acquisitions in a 14-page document as it faces crackdowns from federal regulators and congressional lawmakers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The document contends that breaking up the popular apps would be extraordinarily difficult given that Facebook has made big investments to support their growth and taken steps to integrate their operations, the paper reported Sunday.

Unwinding the acquisitions would also hurt the user experience, weaken security and force Facebook to spend billions of dollars to maintain separate systems for the apps, the document reportedly claims.

“A ‘breakup’ of Facebook is thus a complete nonstarter,” the document reads, according to the Journal.

The details of Facebook’s arguments for keeping its various platforms attached at the hip followed reports that the Federal Trade Commission could bring an antitrust lawsuit against the company by the end of the year.

The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel has also been investigating competition concerns about Facebook along with Google, Apple and Amazon and could release a report on the allegations this week.

While the FTC allowed Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp to proceed, the agency has been probing concerns that the Silicon Valley titan uses its dominance in the social-media market to crush competition.

Facebook’s document raised concerns about the FTC challenging the tie-ups after initially clearing them, according to the Journal. Taking such an action after Facebook made significant investments in the deals would “send a disquieting message to the business community,” the company reportedly argued.

Facebook did not immediately respond to emailed questions about the document Monday. But one antitrust expert told the Journal that the company’s argument against a new FTC action was “surprisingly weak.”

“There’s no way a decision on one merger would be preclusive,” Tim Wu, a Columbia University professor who supports breaking up Facebook, told the paper.

Facebook shares rose 0.7 percent in premarket trading Monday to $261.90 as of 8:05 a.m.