A recent report from the Wall Street Journal claims that the parent company of social media platform Snapchat kept a dossier on Facebook’s aggressive tactics called “Project Voldemort.” According to the Journal, executives from Snap Inc. are now working with the FTC to detail Facebook’s anti-competitive business practices.
In an article titled “Snap Detailed Facebook’s Aggressive Tactics in ‘Project Voldemort’ Dossier,” the Wall Street Journal outlines how Snap Inc.’s legal team compiled a dossier of Facebook’s aggressive business tactics titled “Project Voldemort.” This information comes to light as the FTC has begun contacting dozens of tech executives and app developers as part of an investigation into startups that became defunct after losing access to Facebook’s platform, as well as those who sold their company to Facebook.
The WSJ writes:
The files in Voldemort, a reference to the fictional antagonist in the popular Harry Potter children’s books, chronicled Facebook’s moves that threatened to undermine Snap’s business, including discouraging popular account holders, or influencers, from referencing Snap on their Instagram accounts, according to people familiar with the project. Executives also suspected Instagram was preventing Snap content from trending on its app, the people said.
The FTC’s actions appear to show that the firm is attempting to determine if Facebook has displayed a pattern of behavior that prevents competition to Facebook’s main business model. Within Facebook, many are reportedly worried about what rivals could be telling the FTC, according to the WSJ:
Inside Facebook, senior leaders are concerned about the possibility of rivals divulging damaging information to federal officials and have discussed ways to improve the company’s relationships around Silicon Valley, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
The FTC investigation is one of several antitrust probes into Facebook and major tech giants in the U.S. and around the world. Earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee requested Facebook executive communications about the company’s decisions to buy the photo- and video-sharing network Instagram in 2012 and the messaging app WhatsApp in 2014. Lawmakers have contacted several of those companies’ rivals as part of that probe, the Journal reported previously.
The WSJ notes that one key area of focus is Onavo, an Israeli mobile-analytics startup that was purchased by Facebook in 2013. The app described itself as a way to “keep you and your data safe” by providing a free virtual private network which redirected internet traffic through Facebook servers allowing the firm to log every action by users in its central database. The WSJ writes:
Snap was founded in 2011, when Facebook was already the dominant player in social media. It quickly became a social-media hit after its Snapchat messaging app took off among young people. At one point, Facebook—through Onavo—was able to see Snap data as specific as the number of messages a user sent or how much time those users spent in specific Snapchat features, the former employees said. Facebook couldn’t see the content of the messages or images. The visibility into Snap usage lessened considerably after Snap encrypted its app traffic.
Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.