Instagram founders say breaking up companies may not fix issues

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Published: March 12, 2019 10:58:39 PM

Facebook owns Instagram, which now has more than 1 billion users of its own.

Facebook’s ownership of multiple social media apps isn’t the same issue as the potential antitrust conflict with Amazon’s private-label business, or the structure of Apple Inc’s app store. (File/Reuters)

Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom said the government should decide what problem it’s trying to solve before it moves to break up giant tech companies.

Krieger, responding to a proposal by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren to split Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com Inc, said the companies pose different questions for regulators and lawmakers.

Facebook’s ownership of multiple social media apps isn’t the same issue as the potential antitrust conflict with Amazon’s private-label business, or the structure of Apple Inc’s app store.

ALSO READ: Facebook outlines plans for ‘privacy-focused’ integration of Instagram, WhatsApp messaging

Systrom, on stage Monday with Krieger at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, said there are many legitimate reasons people are upset with tech companies, from higher rents near tech hubs to Russian meddling in the US presidential election.

“We live in a time where I think the anger against big tech has increased 10-fold,” Systrom said. “That doesn’t mean that the answer is breaking the companies up. My fear is that a proposal to break up all tech is playing on everyone’s current feeling about anti-tech rather than doing what politicians should do, which is address real problems with real solutions.”

Facebook owns Instagram, which now has more than 1 billion users of its own. Systrom and Krieger left the company in September. They said that after Instagram grew more powerful, they had less autonomy to make decisions, because all their product moves would affect Facebook as well. They haven’t announced what they are planning to do next.

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