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FTC reportedly considers blocking Facebook from integrating messaging services

The news comes amid antitrust investigations into the social media giant.

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Facebook reached a record $5 billion settlement with the FTC earlier this year.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook plans to integrate its messaging services so WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram users can communicate with one another without switching apps, a move that critics say could make it harder for the government to break up the company. The Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating whether the social media giant is stifling competition, is considering legal action that could stop the integration from happening, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

FTC officials are reportedly mulling a preliminary injunction, a court order that would prevent the company from going ahead until a legal case has been decided. Citing people familiar with the matter, The Journal reported an injunction could block the company from further integrating the services it owns. 

The potential action by the FTC comes as government scrutiny of the world's largest social network continues to heat up. The government agency, which hit Facebook with a record $5 billion fine for privacy mishaps, isn't the only one investigating the social media company. Attorneys general from 47 states are also probing Facebook over antitrust concerns. 

The FTC declined to comment. Facebook didn't respond to a request for comment.

Separately, Facebook is grappling with a seemingly endless list problems this year, including whether it's doing enough to combat hate speech, child exploitation and misinformation. The company is exploring potential solutions, including a content oversight board that would look at some of its toughest decisions if a user appeals. On Thursday, Facebook said it was delaying the selection of its content oversight board members from this year to 2020. It's pledged $130 million to fund this project.