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OFT to investigate Facebook's bid for Instagram

Facebook could be stopped from taking over the photo sharing social network by the Office of Fair Trading.

Facebook's $1bn bid for Instagram is to come under the scrutiny of the Office of Fair Trading, the Guardian reports. The OFT is to start sniffing around because it suspects the social-networking giant might stop people uploading snaps to other sites from the app, or somehow restrict other apps from uploading to Facebook.

It's early days yet, and there's a chance nothing could come from the investigation. The OFT has given interested parties until 5 July to submit comments. It has to see whether it has jurisdiction over Facebook's takeover of the photo-based social network. Then we'll know by 23 August whether it'll seek undertakings from both companies, or refer the whole bid to the Competition Commission.

Over in the US, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the same deal.

"We'll continue to work closely with the OFT and look forward to answering any questions that arise," Facebook said in a statement. Surprisingly cheerful, but then that's what comes from having $1bn spare change in the first place, I suppose.

Facebook put in the bid back in April, though then it went and launched its own Facebook Camera app for iOS, hinting it could be looking to shut down Instagram. Though the takeover looks more like an attempt by Zuckerberg and co to become more dominant in mobile, where Facebook has struggled to make money. The Facebook mobile app lacks adverts at the moment, though I'm not sure for how much longer.

Instagram was a runaway success when it launched on iOS, with over 27 million registered users. It's been at the forefront of the retro photo craze, combining new age fun with a vintage feel.

Instagram launched on Android too earlier this year.

Should Facebook be allowed to buy Instagram? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.