Holtrop S.L.P. blog

Francesco Cortesi



A few months ago something has changed in the profile of 1 billion Facebook users. Any of us can verify that by looking at his profile information in the "contact information" part.  You will discover that our originally set mail contacts have now disappeared and they have been replaced by a brand new mail address "name.surname(number)@facebook.com".

Only a small percentage of Facebook users have perceived this change and until now many millions of people are displaying the new configuration. Thus with a very simple move Facebook has gained a huge amount of contacts for its mail service (emails come directly as messages).

While for users it is very simple to fix this small inconveniency, it is just about a couple of clicks, and restore the preferred mailing address, legal implications could be far more interesting.

This technique used by Facebook in order to instantly get millions of customers for its mail service, taking advantage of its diffusion as a social network, reminds us of a famous case in 2004, the Microsoft case.

In a landmark decision the Redmond based company had been heavily punished for including inside its operating systems default programs like Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player and in general for having acted in a way that damaged other producers of these types of applications.

As a matter of fact there is an analogy between the behaviors of Microsoft and Facebook as the latest put inside its platform a mail service automatically available to all users with probable damages for many other companies competing in the market of electronic mail services and whose address are no longer displayed on users profiles.

I will conclude with the words of then European Commissioner for competition Mario Monti:

"It is essential to have a precedent which will establish clear principles for the future conduct of a company with such a strong dominant position in the market".

Is Facebook in a dominant position in the social network market?