Facebook has a tool to help them monitor potential acquisitions and rivals

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Facebook has a tool to help it identify start-up competitors Wall Street Journal claims that Facebook leverages secret tool to track potential acquistions and emerging rivals. Once targeted, smaller, successful potential competitors are either acquired, like WhatsApp in 2014, or copied like Snapchat and Houseparty. As reported in the article

"Facebook uses an internal database to track rivals, including young startups performing unusually well, people familiar with the system say. The database stems from Facebook’s 2013 acquisition of a Tel Aviv-based startup, Onavo, which had built an app that secures users’ privacy by routing their traffic through private servers. The app gives Facebook an unusually detailed look at what users collectively do on their phones, these people say.The tool shaped Facebook’s decision to buy WhatsApp and informed its live-video strategy, they say. "