A new report gathers Facebook’s threats to its competition. If they did not accept their conditions, Facebook would copy their services and make it impossible for them to compete.
This type of behavior does not come as a surprise. Facebook is a company that does not act cleanly, neither with its customers nor its competitors.
In recent years, scandals, appearances of its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, investigations and all kinds of security flaws have made it clear that it is not just a social network in which to upload family photos.
At times, Facebook seems like a power structure capable of altering the outcome of elections and causing all kinds of problems, both for companies and for civil society.
And that’s where the ‘Voldemort Project‘ comes in, which beyond portraying Zuckerberg as a fantasy book villain, exposes how far his tricks come to succeed in the technology industry.
In 2013, Facebook tried to buy the social network Snapchat for $3 billion dollars. Evan Spiegel, its founder, stood firm. “I was not interested in his creation known as Instagram,” he said.
Zuckerberg tried again in 2016 and 2017, in an attempt to curb the company’s market share. Trading on the stock market, getting your most innovative rival would become prohibitive. It didn’t work either.
Frustrated by these decisions, Facebook decided to go on the offensive.
Snapchat’s most popular features, such as ephemeral user stories or augmented reality filters for cameras, were copied without blush on the Facebook’s different platforms, such as Instagram, Messenger and Facebook itself. If you can’t beat your enemy, become him.
But Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, did not sit idly by. In recent years, its legal team has recorded all instances in which Facebook demonstrated abusive behavior.
It has done so in a dossier baptized as ‘Voldemort Project‘, in reference to the villain of the Harry Potter book saga, and it is a compendium that could become a key piece of the monopoly investigation that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened against Zuckerberg’s company.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the dossier includes meetings in which Facebook offered its rivals two unique scenarios: It either accepted the conditions imposed by the company or Facebook would copy the functions that made the platforms popular, implementing them at a scale in which small start-ups could not compete.
Facebook, after all, has more than 2 billion users across the planet, an audience far superior to that of any of its rivals.
This ultimatum was not directed only to Snap. Foursquare, the popular application to discover new stores and restaurants, was also one of the victims of this abuse. For example, the entry of Facebook into its territory forced the company to change strategy and leave the social component, a decision that it brought a great loss of relevance.
But the resentment and viciousness employed in competing against Snap was of another order of magnitude. According to the documents of the Voldemort Project, Facebook came to block references to Snapchat that the biggest influencers made about it on Instagram, for fear that the competing network would steal potential clients. The content with references to Snapchat was banned by Facebook and never became prominent in the rankings.
Facebook could also have forced the most popular Instagram users not to make references to Snapchat in their profiles under penalty of losing the prestigious status of ‘verified’.
This investigation is independent of the fine to Facebook for the misuse of the personal data of its users in the case of Cambridge Analytica, the largest ever imposed on a technology company and that Facebook had to pay last July.