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經濟學人:站在風口浪尖的Facebook(2)

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The Facebook lawsuits centre on its acquisitions. The firm maintained its monopoly in personal social-networking by systematically buying up potential competitors, both contend—notably Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. A smoking gun could be Onavo, an Israeli firm Facebook bought in 2013—to protect user data, the firm said. The suits claim it in fact used Onavo to track rival apps’ popularity and select acquisition targets. Another alleged anti-competitive practice was blocking rival app developers from its platform. As consumer harm is hard to prove against big tech’s mostly free products, the suits try a novel argument: that damage is done to users’ privacy and advertisers’ choice.

Facebook的訴訟重點在於其收購上。Facebook通過系統性收購潛在競爭對手來維持其在個人社交網絡領域的壟斷地位,尤其是在2012年收購Instagram,2014年收購WhatsApp。Facebook稱,確鑿的證據可能是2013年為保護用户數據而收購的以色列公司Onavo。訴訟稱,Facebook實際上利用Onavo跟蹤競爭對手應用程序的受歡迎程度,並選擇收購目標。另一項所謂的反競爭行為是阻止競爭對手的應用開發商進入其平台。由於很難證明消費者使用大型科技公司大多免費的產品時受到了損害,因此訴訟嘗試了一個新穎的論點:Facebook損害了用户隱私和廣告商的選擇。

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Facebook will argue that its market is social media, which is broader and more competitive than social-networking. Tik- Tok, a Chinese-owned short-video app, is now more popular than Instagram among American teenagers. The internal Facebook emails on which the lawsuits hinge hardly paint a picture of a lazy monopolist; Mr Zuckerberg and his lieutenants see competitive threats everywhere. Facebook can also argue that breaking it up is wellnigh impossible. Last year it started integrating Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger more deeply. And the FTC’s complaint fails to mention it cleared the Instagram and WhatsApp deals. The government “now wants a do-over”, sending a chilling warning to American business that “no sale will ever be final”, Facebook said.

Facebook將辯稱其市場是社交媒體,社交媒體比社交網絡更廣泛、更具競爭力。相比Instagram,中國的短視頻應用程序Tik-Tok現在更受美國青少年的青睞。訴訟所依賴的Facebook內部郵件很難描繪出一個懶惰的壟斷者形象,扎克伯格和他的副手們看到了無處不在的競爭威脅。Facebook也可以辯稱,拆分自己幾乎是不可能實現的。去年,它開始更深入地整合Instagram、WhatsApp和Messenger。而聯邦貿易委員會的訴狀中也沒有提到,正是它自己批准了Instagram和WhatsApp的交易。Facebook稱,美國政府“現在希望重整旗鼓”,這向美國商界發出了一個令人不寒而慄的警告:“任何出售都不會是最終結果”。

Markets shrugged off the news. Facebook’s shares dipped by 2%, in line with the rest of big tech. Investors either see forced divestitures as unlikely, says Brent Thill of Jefferies, an investment bank—or spy even more money to be made from spin-offs.

市場對這一消息不以為然。Facebook的股價下跌了2%,與其他大型科技公司的股價保持一致。投資銀行Jefferies的布倫特·希爾表示,投資者要麼認為強制剝離不太可能,要麼認為自己可以從分拆中獲利更多。

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popular ['pɔpjulə]

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adj. 流行的,大眾的,通俗的,受歡迎的

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rival ['raivəl]

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n. 對手,同伴,競爭者
adj. 競爭的

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messenger ['mesindʒə]

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n. 報信者,先驅

 
protect [prə'tekt]

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vt. 保護,投保

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innovation [.inəu'veiʃən]

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n. 創新,革新

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contend [kən'tend]

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vi. 奮鬥,鬥爭,辯論
vt. 堅持認為,競

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social ['səuʃəl]

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adj. 社會的,社交的
n. 社交聚會

 
internal [in'tə:nəl]

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adj. 國內的,內在的,身體內部的

 
spy [spai]

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n. 間諜,偵探,偵察
vt. 偵探,看到,找

 
technical ['teknikəl]

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adj. 技術的,工藝的

 
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