State AGs Investigating Facebook

A healthy handful of states is investigating Facebook over antitrust issues.

New York Attorney General Letitia James Friday (Sept. 6) confirmed that she is heading up a "bipartisan coalition" of state AGs--nine in all so far--looking into the company to see whether it has used its social media dominance anticompetitively.

James was talking tough, though with "whether" and "nays" that indicated the jury is still out: "We will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions may have endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising.”

Joining the investigation are AGs from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.

DOJ confirmed last month it is investigating business practices of Big Tech, which it signaled may be harming consumers.

The Antitrust Division, headed by Makan Delrahim, said it is even now reviewing "whether and how market-leading online platforms [like Facebook] have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers."

In July, the Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion, concluding it had "repeatedly used deceptive disclosures and settings to undermine users’ privacy preferences in violation of its 2012 FTC order [requiring it to better protect user data privacy]" and "took inadequate steps to deal with apps that it knew were violating its platform policies."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.