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FTC interviewed Zuckerberg in 2012 making adding challenge to Facebook suit – Fox Business

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The Federal Trade Commission secretly interviewed Mark Zuckerberg while probing Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram — grilling the tech tycoon over the social network’s motives in the controversial deal, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told The Post.

Facebook’s chief executive had agreed voluntarily to speak with the feds in the 2012 interview, which hasn’t previously been reported, according to sources close to the situation. Despite regulators’ concerns over the tie-up, Zuckerberg wasn’t formally deposed and the FTC dropped its case roughly three months later.

The fact that the interview took place could throw a wrench into the new antitrust case brought against Facebook by hard-charging FTC Chair Lina Khan, who is looking to unwind the tech giant’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, legal experts say. That’s because it bolsters the argument that the feds already thoroughly reviewed the tie-up when it was proposed, and are now improperly trying to relitigate the case.

FACEBOOK ANTITRUST COMPLAINT DISMISSED BY FEDERAL JUDGE

In the interview, sources said Zuckerberg denied that he had viewed Instagram as a competitor — a crucial point as regulators reviewed concerns that Facebook was building a monopoly in the social-networking space. Instead, Zuckerberg insisted in the interview that he wanted to buy Instagram to help Facebook fetch a better valuation in its initial public offering, which was to occur three months later, sources said.

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That’s despite explosive internal messages that the feds had seized prior to the interview and used to confront Zuckerberg, the sources said. The messages eventually spilled into public view during a 2019 congressional hearing on tech antitrust concerns.

The Federal Trade Commission secretly interviewed Mark Zuckerberg while probing Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram — grilling the tech tycoon over the social network’s motives in the controversial deal, two sources with direct knowledge of the

In one of the 2012 messages, then-Facebook CFO David Ebersman asked Zuckerberg whether the potential purchase of Instagram was about neutralizing a competitor, acquiring talent or integrating products to improve Facebook.

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“It’s a combination of neutralizing a competitor and improving Facebook”, Zuckerberg replied.

Sources said Zuckerberg defended the February 2012 internal communications in the FTC interview, saying they needed to be placed in a broader context. At the time, Facebook was preparing for an IPO, which happened in May 2012. Zuckerberg said he believed buying Instagram might help Facebook’s IPO valuation and that is what he meant. Likewise, he denied that he viewed Instagram as a real competitor to Facebook, noting that the company wasn’t much bigger than several other, lesser-known photo-sharing apps at the time, the source said

“This was his spin,” at the time, the source said.

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JUDGE EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR FTC TO REFILE FACEBOOK ANTITRUST SUIT

“I don’t think he said anything to help himself,” the second source with direct knowledge of the interview said. “If this interview and the texts were public in 2012, there would have been more pressure to block the merger.”

Nevertheless, after interviewing Zuckerberg, the FTC decided against bringing him back to answer more questions in a formal deposition, according to sources.

“I think there was a lot of reticence to produce him as a formal witness,” the first source said. “The FTC tried to work around it because they did not want to depose him.”

In the interview, sources said Zuckerberg denied that he had viewed Instagram as a competitor — a crucial point as regulators reviewed concerns that Facebook was building a monopoly in the social-networking space. Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek

Zuckerberg did not want to appear under oath, and regulators do not like bringing in the CEO of a large company multiple times for interviews unless they believe they might actually sue, the source said. In the end, the FTC regulators weren’t convinced they had a winning case, the source added.

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That’s partly because Instagram at the time had no revenue, crippling the FTC’s ability to build an argument that the merger was anticompetitive under US antitrust law. Indeed, most of the FTC’s five commissioners were concerned they wouldn’t win if they sued to stop the merger because of antitrust rules that equate market share with revenue, sources said.

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Facebook wouldn’t comment for this story, but earlier this month said in a statement: “The FTC’s claims are an effort to rewrite antitrust laws and upend settled expectations of merger review, declaring to the business community that no sale is ever final. ” The FTC didn’t return calls for comment.

The Post reported exclusively in 2019 that then-FTC Chair Jon Leibowitz was interested in blocking the merger but could not get enough support among the other commissioners. Facebook, which had already accumulated a 60 percent share of the social network market, pushed the deal through in August 2012 — just four months after it announced it — partly by arguing that Instagram was a photo-sharing site for smartphones, not a social-networking site.

FACEBOOK, LIKE AMAZON, ASKS FOR FTC’S KHAN TO BE REMOVED FROM ANTITRUST LITIGATION AGAINST COMPANY

Now, some experts say the FTC likely will have a hard time persuading a DC District Court judge to unwind the nearly 10-year-old deal despite claims that it helped kill off competition and allowed Facebook to become too dominant.

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“That’s very provocative,” George Washington University Law Professor William Kovacic, who chaired the FTC in 2008 and 2009 told The Post when told of the secret Zuckerberg interview, saying he had been unaware it had taken place. “This sure doesn’t help the Commission’s case.”

Earlier this month, FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson voted against filing the amended complaint, noting in her dissenting opinion, “The primary allegations … relate to Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, transactions that the FTC previously evaluated.”

“I believe it is bad policy to undermine the integrity of the premerger notification process established by Congress and the repose that it provides to merging parties that have faithfully complied with its requirements,” Wilson wrote.

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If the FTC uncovered new information about what Facebook was thinking in 2012 that regulators didn’t know at the time, it could make the case to unwind the merger easier to make, sources said.

The first source with direct knowledge of the 2012 Zuckerberg interview estimated that the government has a 25 percent chance of winning its case against Facebook, even as Facebook argues not only that it cooperated with the FTC in 2012 but also that Instagram would have never become this successful on its own.

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Regulators’ best chance of winning, according to the source, is showing that the facts have changed since the merger as Instagram has become a giant social-networking site and was not in the social-networking space 10 years ago.

“If the facts change, you appraise a merger at time of the suit and not when the merger occurs,” Penn Law Professor Herbert Hovenkamp told The Post.

He said the FTC’s new chair Kahn — a 32-year-old former Colubmia Law professor who has cast herself as a firebrand on antitrust issues — is likely partly pursuing the suit, brought initially by Trump-appointed regulators, because she could win even by losing.

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“She gets two bites at the apple,” Hovenkamp said. “One is to win — and if it falls apart, she still has a chance to win if Congress passes one of the more aggressive bills that changes merger law. She can make her case to Congress that the FTC would have sued to stop the Instagram merger had the antitrust laws been updated to give it more power.”

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Updates to Section 7 of the Developer Policies – Facebook Gaming Policies

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We have updated Section 7 of the Developer Policies effective immediately. No change is required from the developers’ end, only awareness about these changes.

As part of our continuous focus on improving developers’ experience, we have made some updates to the Section 7 of the Developer Policies which covers all Facebook Gaming Products, such as Web Games on Facebook.com, Instant Games and Cloud Games. As part of this update we have removed outdated policies, and streamlined the language and structure of Section 7 to better reflect the existing state of our Facebook Gaming Products. We have also reorganized some policies under the Quality Guidelines. These updates do not introduce any product change, nor do they include any new requirements for developers.

Please review the updated Section 7 to familiarize yourself with the updated content structure.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Creating Apps with App Use Cases

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With the goal of making Meta’s app creation process easier for developers to create and customize their apps, we are announcing the rollout of an updated process using App Use Cases instead of the former product-focused process. App Use Cases will enable developers to quickly create apps by selecting the use case that best represents their reason for creating an app.

Currently, the product-focused app creation process requires developers to select an app type and individually request permission to API endpoints. After listening to feedback from developers saying this process was, at times, confusing and difficult to navigate, we’re updating our approach that’s based on App Use Cases. With App Use Cases, user permissions and features will be bundled with each use case so developers can now confidently select the right data access for their needs. This change sets developers up for success to create their app and navigate app review, ensuring they only get the exact data access they need to accomplish their goals.

Starting today Facebook Login will be the first use case to become available to developers. This will be the first of many use cases that will be built into the app creation process that will roll out continually in 2023. For more information please reference our Facebook Login documentation.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Understanding Authorization Tokens and Access for the WhatsApp Business Platform

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The WhatsApp Business Platform makes it easy to send WhatsApp messages to your customers and automate replies. Here, we’ll explore authentication using the Cloud API, hosted by Meta.

We’ll start with generating and using a temporary access token and then replace it with a permanent access token. This tutorial assumes you’re building a server-side application and won’t need additional steps to keep your WhatsApp application secrets securely stored.

Managing Access and Authorization Tokens

First, let’s review how to manage authorization tokens and safely access the API.

Prerequisites

Start by making sure you have a developer account on Meta for Developers. You’ll also need WhatsApp installed on a mobile device to send test messages to.

Creating an App

Before you can authenticate, you’ll need an application to authenticate you.

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Once you’re signed in, you see the Meta for Developers App Dashboard. Click Create App to get started.

Next, you’ll need to choose an app type. Choose Business.

After that, enter a display name for your application. If you have a business account to link to your app, select it. If not, don’t worry. The Meta for Developers platform creates a test business account you can use to experiment with the API. When done, click Create App.

Then, you’ll need to add products to your app. Scroll down until you see WhatsApp and click the Set up button:

Finally, choose an existing Meta Business Account or ask the platform to create a new one and click Continue:

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And with that, your app is created and ready to use. You’re automatically directed to the app’s dashboard.

Note that you have a temporary access token. For security reasons, the token expires in less than 24 hours. However, you can use it for now to test accessing the API. Later, we’ll cover how to generate a permanent access token that your server applications can use. Also, note your app’s phone number ID because you’ll need it soon.

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Click the dropdown under the To field, and then click Manage phone number list.

In the popup that appears, enter the phone number of a WhatsApp account to send test messages to.

Then, scroll further down the dashboard page and you’ll see an example curl call that looks similar to this:

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curl -i -X POST https://graph.facebook.com/v13.0//messages -H 'Authorization: Bearer ' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{ "messaging_product": "whatsapp", "to": "", "type": "template", "template": { "name": "hello_world", "language": { "code": "en_US" } } }'

Note that the Meta for Developers platform inserts your app’s phone number ID and access token instead of the and placeholders shown above. If you have curl installed, paste the command into your terminal and run it. You should receive a “hello world” message in WhatsApp on your test device.

If you’d prefer, you can convert the curl request into an HTTP request in your programming language by simply creating a POST request that sets the Authorization and Content-Type headers as shown above, including the JSON payload in the request body.

Since this post is about authentication, let’s focus on that. Notice that you’ve included your app’s access token in the Authorization header. For any request to the API, you must set the Authorization header to Bearer .

Remember that you must use your token instead of the placeholder. Using bearer tokens will be familiar if you’ve worked with JWT or OAuth2 tokens before. If you’ve never seen one before, a bearer token is essentially a random secret string that you, as the bearer of the token, can present to an API to prove you’re allowed to access it.

Failure to include this header causes the API to return a 401 Unauthorized response code.

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Creating a Permanent Access Token

Knowing that you need to use a bearer token in the Authorization header of an HTTP request is helpful, but it’s not enough. The only access token you’ve seen so far is temporary. Chances are that you want your app to access the API for more than 24 hours, so you need to generate a longer-lasting access token.

Fortunately, the Meta for Developers platform makes this easy. All you need to do is add a System User to your business account to obtain an access token you can use to continue accessing the API. To create a system user, do the following:

  • Go to Business Settings.

  • Select the business account your app is associated with.
  • Below Users, click System Users.
  • Click Add.
  • Name the system user, choose Admin as the user role, and click Create System User.
  • Select the whatsapp_business_messaging permission.
  • Click Generate New Token.
  • Copy and save your token.

Your access token is a random string of letters and numbers. Now, try re-running the earlier request using the token you just created instead of the temporary one:

curl -i -X POST https://graph.facebook.com/v13.0//messages -H 'Authorization: Bearer ' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{ "messaging_product": "whatsapp", "to": "", "type": "template", "template": { "name": "hello_world", "language": { "code": "en_US" } } }'

Your test device should receive a second hello message sent via the API.

Best Practices for Managing Access Tokens

It’s important to remember that you should never embed an App Access Token in a mobile or desktop application. These tokens are only for use in server-side applications that communicate with the API. Safeguard them the same way you would any other application secrets, like your database credentials, as anyone with your token has access to the API as your business.

If your application runs on a cloud services provider like AWS, Azure, GCP, or others, those platforms have tools to securely store app secrets. Alternatively there are freely-available secret stores like Vault or Conjur. While any of these options may work for you, it’s important to evaluate your options and choose what works best for your setup. At the very least, consider storing access tokens in environment variables and not in a database or a file where they’re easy to find during a data breach.

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Conclusion

In this post, you learned how to create a Meta for Developers app that leverages the WhatsApp Business Platform. You now know how the Cloud API’s bearer access tokens work, how to send an access token using an HTTP authorization header, and what happens if you send an invalid access token. You also understand the importance of keeping your access tokens safe since an access token allows an application to access a business’ WhatsApp messaging capabilities.

Why not try using the Cloud API, hosted by Meta if you’re considering building an app for your business to manage WhatsApp messaging? Now that you know how to obtain and use access tokens, you can use them to access any endpoint in the API.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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