In December 2020, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sought to break up Meta and to unwind acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. Unfortunately, Judge James E. Boasberg found that FTC had not plausibly supported its case, and thus could not proceed. Under the new chair Lina Khan FTC re-filed with more evidence and now the case has been approved for trial. But now TikTok is the new champion. In 2021, it was the most visited website in the world.
While the Chinese TikTok is surpassing the Meta platforms, Meta is being sued in the UK for £2.3bn in a class action lawsuit that claims 44 million Facebook users in the UK had their data exploited after signing up to the social network. The lawsuit brought by the legal expert Liza Lovdahl Gormsen argues that the price for getting on Facebook, which does not charge its users, is handing over personal data that generates 98% of Meta’s income from advertisers. They would be able to target specific demographics and consumers because Meta has built up profiles of its users through their online activity.
Mark Zuckerberg and his Meta are in a strategic quandary. On the one hand, the U.S. FTC is trying to break up the Meta and the Class Action in the UK wants billions in damages for unfair business practices. While Meta faces these massive legal threats, China’s TikTok is surpassing Facebook and Instagram to become the new market leader.
The age of meta platforms and U.S. tech giants seems to be coming to an end. The Chinese era is beginning.