Facebook shares slip on possible US antitrust move

San Francisco, Dec 13 (AFP/APP): Facebook shares slipped on Thursday after a report that US regulators want an injunction against the social network strengthening how its apps and those of others integrate with the platform.

Facebook shares ended the formal trading day down 2.7 percent to $196.75 as a Wall Street Journal report raised the specter of antitrust action by the Federal Trade Commission.

The California-based social network declined to comment on the report, which cited unnamed people close to the matter.

The FTC is considering seeking an injunction regarding how Facebook apps work with one another or with software of other companies, according to the report.

Facebook’s family of applications includes Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp as well as the main online social network software.

The report came just days after Facebook vowed to move ahead with strong encryption for all its messaging applications.

Officials from the US, Britain and Australia have called on Facebook to allow authorities to circumvent encryption to better fight extremism, child pornography and other crimes.

“The ‘backdoor’ access you are demanding for law enforcement would be a gift to criminals, hackers and repressive regimes,” the heads of Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger, Will Cathcart and Stan Chudnovsky, said in a letter to officials from the three countries.

Critics have argued that new forms of encryption — which can make it impossible for anyone except the sender and recipient to see the contents of a message — are locking out law enforcement.

Facebook, which already uses “end-to-end” encryption on WhatsApp, said in the letter it intends to do the same across all its messaging services.

This week, more than 100 activist organizations, security experts and industry groups warned against efforts to force tech companies to weaken encryption.

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