I thought it was possible to compete fairly against the world’s largest social media company. It isn’t.
I’m the founder of MeWe, the ad-free social network with data privacy and no content amplification or newsfeed manipulation. MeWe competes directly with Facebook. On June 27, 2019, I wrote an op-ed in this newspaper headlined “I Compete With Facebook, and It’s No Monopoly.”
On Aug. 6, 2021, I was contacted by the New York state attorney general’s office, which, along with the Federal Trade Commission, is leading a 46-state antitrust investigation of Facebook. On June 28 a previous case was dismissed by a federal judge, who said the states failed to prove Facebook was a monopoly. The FTC filed an amended complaint on Aug. 19, which listed MeWe as one of Facebook’s few competitors left standing. In tandem, the attorneys general are seeking an appeal and requesting my perspective. Facebook has responded by denying that it’s a monopolist and calling the FTC’s lawsuit “meritless.”
I’ve changed my mind. MeWe continues to succeed, albeit on a modest scale. Two years ago the platform had five million users and no revenue. Today it has nearly 20 million users and is breaking even with millions of dollars in revenue. Yet despite MeWe’s growth, Facebook’s troubling actions over the last two years have caused me to change my position, for six reasons.
First, on July 28, 2021, Mark Zuckerberg declared Facebook will transform itself in the next five years from a social-media company into a “Metaverse company.” Facebook plans to spend billions of dollars and use virtual-reality technology from Oculus and other companies it has acquired to create a three-dimensional digital universe. Facebook plans for everyone to be totally immersed in the Facebook ecosystem at all times. No upstart has the advanced technologies, infrastructure, resources and massive user base required to build a competing “Metaverse.” This will be the capper to Facebook’s dominance.