Facebook has been accused by a defunct photo app for allegedly copying its feature for Instagram.
The Instagram rival has filed an antitrust suit against Meta, formerly known as Facebook, for cloning its feature and killing the competition. This isn’t the first antitrust case against Facebook. The social media company has been accused of stifling the competition many times in the past.
The Phhhoto app allowed users to capture five frames in a single point-and-shoot burst, create and share short GIF-like videos. We know of this feature because of its similarity with Instagram’s hugely popular Boomerang feature. It is now one of the most used features, but it is definitely not Facebook’s brainchild. Phhhoto has alleged that Facebook copied its feature for Instagram and presented it to the users as “Boomerang”. The company alleged that Facebook blocked Phhhoto from Instagram’s API, as per The Verge.
“The actions of Facebook and Instagram destroyed Phhhoto as a viable business and ruined the company’s prospects for investment. Phhhoto failed as a direct result of Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct. But for Facebook’s conduct, Phhhoto was positioned to grow into a social networking giant, similar in size, scope, and shareholder value to other social networking and media companies with which Facebook did not interfere,” Phhhoto said in the complaint filed in US District Court on Thursday.
Phhhoto app was launched in 2014 but didn’t survive in the market for long.
The app was shut down in 2017. The app claimed that it had 3.7 million monthly active users in the initial days. The app had users including Beyoncé, Joe Jonas, Chrissy Teigen, and Bella Hadid. The report states that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, former Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom downloaded the app and examined its features.
“This revelation provided the first link between Facebook’s earlier actions toward Phhhoto (here, cutting off API access) as part of an exclusionary scheme with the algorithmic suppression discovered in late 2017,” the lawsuit read.
Phhhoto is now seeking monetary damages from Meta. However, the Meta spokesperson has said that the lawsuit filed by Phhhoto is without merit and that the company will defend itself in court.