Facebook Controls Over 90% of the Social Networking Market, FTC Says

Facebook averaged a 92% share of the social networking market based on time spent with its products, between 2012 and 2020, according to a significantly less redacted version of the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust that was filed Wednesday.

After its initial lawsuit was thrown out over the summer, the FTC refiled its case with more detail in August. According to the less redacted lawsuit, Facebook’s market share based on time spent on its products didn’t fall below 82% between September 2012 and December 2020. Competitors including Snapchat, Google+, Myspace, Path, MeWe, Orkut, and Friendster didn’t have a combined market share of more than 18% and only Snapchat pushed past 10%. Facebook’s market share when calculated using daily and monthly active users, was slightly less, though more than 70%.

In 2020, more than 80% of U.S. internet users used Facebook’s main site, while about 54% used Instagram, according to the lawsuit. Just 28% used Snapchat, the next largest competitor.

The previously sealed numbers, sourced from data provider Comscore, will be central to whether the FTC can prove Facebook violated US antitrust laws with its 2012 and 2014 purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp, and should be required to sell off the companies.

The FTC was criticized last month for saying that Facebook doesn’t compete with viral video app TikTok, which Facebook has highlighted as a key competitor, because TikTok doesn’t let people “connect and personally engage with friends and family” the way Facebook does.

However, the less redacted version of the lawsuit cites internal Facebook communications from 2019 that says TikTok is “not directly competing in the core areas of focus for our business,”and that TikTok is not used “for sharing with friends and family.”