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FTC investigating Facebook / Instagram deal, says Financial Times

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The Financial Times reports that the US Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation of Facebook's Instagram acquisition. It's not expected to reject the deal, but a probe may delay it by several months.

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The Facebook buyout of Instagram may not happen as soon as planned. According to the Financial Times, "two people familiar with the matter" say the US Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation of the deal and is currently collecting information from Facebook's competitors. That doesn't necessarily mean it's going to find any problems, and it's not unusual for the FTC to investigate deals greater than $68.2 million under current antitrust laws; the deal is still expected to be approved.

An FTC probe, however, means that Facebook probably won't be able to start using Instagram as quickly as it would like. Facebook has previously said it expects the deal to close in the second quarter, but an investigation could take six or twelve months, during which Facebook won't be able to integrate any Instagram features into its service. That means one of the biggest new parts of its mobile service isn't going to be operational when it makes its initial public offering later this year. The only real silver lining for users is that anyone who's concerned over the Instagram acquisition will have a little more time before it officially joins Zuckerberg's empire.