Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Facebook Antitrust Investigation Expands to 47 Attorneys General

An antitrust probe against Facebook has expanded into nearly the entire continental United States and beyond, New York State Attorney General Letitia James said on October 22 2019, with 46 states and one territory taking part.

James said in a statement:

Attorneys general from Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the territory of Guam have all joined the investigation.

James first launched New York’s investigation against the social media platform a month earlier; at the time, seven other states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee — joined the probe, along with the District of Columbia.

As it faces this advanced investigation, two other agencies, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, have also launched their own antitrust probes against Facebook. James, along with her Iowa counterpart Tom Miller and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, met with United States Attorney General William Barr and other DOJ officials concerning their respective efforts.

“We are concerned that Facebook’s actions may have put consumer data at risk of data breaches, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising,” James said in a statement. “So we will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to protect consumers and protect competition.” Specifically, Facebook’s acquisitions of two other platforms in Instagram and WhatsApp have reportedly attracted concerns over possible antitrust violations.

As James announced the expansion of the state probe, the Washington Post reported that Facebook spent $4.8 million on lobbying activities in the third quarter of 2019 — a 70 percent increase compared to 2018.

The increased scrutiny also came less than a month after TheVerge.com published audio of Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg denouncing the call by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a current Democratic Party presidential candidate, that the company be subject to tighter regulation.

“If she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge,” Zuckerberg said. “And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. … But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.”

We have contacted Facebook seeking comment and will update this story if we receive a response.

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