- Facebook killed off talks to buy video-chat app Houseparty late last year over concerns it could draw unwanted antitrust scrutiny, sources told The New York Times.
- Houseparty gained huge popularity with under-24s last year, and was bought by “Fortnite” developer Epic Games in June.
- Facebook’s acquisitions, including Instagram and WhatsApp, have been a particular point of criticism by lawmakers who want to see the company broken up.
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Facebook killed a deal to buy a video-chat app popular with teens out of fear it might draw attention from antitrust regulators, The New York Times reported Monday.
Houseparty is an app that allows multiple people to video chat at once, and became hugely popular with under-24s, a market which Facebook was eager to re-capture.
Two sources familiar with the matter told the Times that Facebook was in “advanced discussions” to buy Houseparty in December last year, but corporate development team stepped in to kill off the deal, fearing it might draw yet more scrutiny from lawmakers. Houseparty was instead bought by Epic Games, the game studio behind “Fortnite,” in June of this year.
Facebook and Silicon Valley as a whole has faced heightened antitrust scrutiny this year. The company formally announced in July that it was the subject of an ongoing Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation.
Its acquisitions, in particular, are a point of contention, with lawmakers like Elizabeth Warren calling for Facebook to be broken apart from its subsidiaries such as Instagram and WhatsApp.
Mark Zuckerberg has voiced his opposition to the idea of breaking up the company, saying Facebook’s giant scale affords it the resources to fight abuse on all its platforms. Earlier this month, it was reported that the company was rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp to “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook,” possibly an attempt at cementing its ownership in the eyes of antitrust officials.
Facebook and Houseparty were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.