US regulators are talking to founders of companies Facebook acquired as part of the government's new antitrust probe

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook CEOFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is digging into Facebook's history of acquiring other companies.
  • The US regulator is talking to founders of startups that were bought by Facebook, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • The FTC is currently investigating Facebook over antitrust issues.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

US regulators investigating Facebook for potential antitrust violations are taking a close look at the company's history of acquisitions.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal published Thursday, investigators at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been trying to contact the founders of companies that Facebook has bought up over the years.

The approaches are a sign that the FTC's investigation into whether Facebook has engaged in antitrust competitive behavior is going to explore how the Silicon Valley social networking giant approached acquiring other companies - an area antitrust advocates have long called for scrutiny of Facebook over.

The WSJ reported, citing unspecified people familiar with the matter, that the FTC is "examining the social media giant's acquisitions to determine if they were part of a campaign to snap up potential rivals before they could become a threat."

It's not immediately clear which founders of which companies have been approached by the FTC - but Facebook has a long history of purchasing startups working in similar fields to it. Two of its key products, WhatsApp and Instagram, began life as independent startups before being acquired.

Spokespeople for the Facebook and the FTC did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment.

Critics of the company, including Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren and cofounder Chris Hughes, have argued that Facebook should be forced to undo some of its past acquisitions.

In June 2019, the FTC opened its antitrust investigation into Facebook, and the company disclosed its existence publicly for the first time during its Q2 earnings in late July. In a corporate filing, the company said: In June 2019 we were informed by the FTC that it had opened an antitrust investigation of our company in the areas of social networking or social media services, digital advertising, and/or mobile or online applications."

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