U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons is prepared to break up large technology platforms if necessary, Bloomberg News reported Aug. 13.
The news comes after Facebook Inc. said during a July earnings call that the FTC has been investigating the company over antitrust concerns since June. Facebook is also subject to a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust review of leading online platforms, announced in July.
Simons told Bloomberg that any antitrust inquiry into Facebook's past M&A activity, such as its acquisition of Instagram Inc., would consider what would have happened to those targets had they remained independent.
"There's a question about what caused Instagram to be as successful as it is," Simons told the publication. "Was it the fact that the seed was already there and it was going to be germinated no matter what or was the seed germinated because Facebook acquired it?"
In February, the FTC announced the formation of a task force to monitor competition in U.S. technology markets. The task force was established to investigate possible anticompetitive conduct and take enforcement actions when necessary, according to the agency.
Antitrust experts told S&P Global Market Intelligence in March that high-profile proposals to crack down on the market power of large technology platforms face an uphill battle, because of the legal mechanisms required. Specifically, if the FTC moved to unwind an acquisition, it would ultimately need to have a court approve the action, which would be a challenging task.