This article was published on June 22, 2012

UK’s OFT to investigate Facebook’s Instagram buy over photo sharing concerns

UK’s OFT to investigate Facebook’s Instagram buy over photo sharing concerns

The purchase of Instagram by Facebook is set to be investigated by the UK regulatory agency Office of Fair Trading, reports Charles Arthur at The Guardian. The agency is concerned that Facebook might eventually shut off the sharing options to other social networks like Twitter and Sina Weibo that already exist in the app.

The UK competition regulator has asked for comments from interested parties, and given them until 5 July – just two weeks away – to respond. The OFT aims first to decide whether it has jurisdiction over the takeover, and will then determine whether to drop its investigation if it does not or cannot see any harmful effects, or to either seek undertakings from the two companies or refer the entire bid to the UK Competition Commission, by 23 August.

Facebook told The Guardian that it would “continue to work closely with the OFT and look forward to answering any questions that arise.”

The OFT has jurisdiction over mergers between companies in the UK that would turn over £70m or control 25% of their market, which in this case would be photo sharing. It’s not the first organization to be curious about the implications of this deal either. The Federal Trade Commission has already issued a ‘second request’ to Facebook for information, meaning a longer approval process.

While the OFT may very well investigate the merger, it seems highly unlikely that Facebook would suddenly shut off the nozzle for sharing on other sites. Facebook itself features integration with Twitter and other networks for sharing status updates and such. There would be little-to-nothing to gain for Facebook in doing so besides raising the ire of users. The Instagram acquisition was about mobile users and about a new pipeline of information shared in photographs and the status updates attached to them. No matter where you share your photos after you take them, Facebook still gets that data.

So I wouldn’t worry about not being able to share out to other networks from Instagram any time soon.