Almost every state joins in on antitrust investigation into Facebook

The attorneys general of nearly every state has joined New York in an antitrust investigation into Facebook. In total, 47 attorneys general are now looking into whether the social media giant “stifled competition” in a way that may have impacted user data and ad prices. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the additional states’ participation in a press release on Tuesday, October 22. James initially began the investigation on September 6 on antitrust grounds. Attorneys general from both parties have now joined James to question Facebook’s business practices. 

“Our investigation now has the support of 47 attorneys general from around the nation, who are all concerned that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising,” James said in the press release. “As we continue our investigation, we will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions stifled competition and put users at risk.”

The coalition of attorneys general isn’t the only antitrust investigation of Facebook—the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have also launched separate investigations into the tech giant. 

The FTC’s antitrust investigation of Facebook focuses on the tech giant’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. The FTC seeks to determine if Facebook tried to acquire its social media rivals before they would become a threat to its business.

The DOJ is focusing on a separate issue from the FTC’s investigation, according to Bloomberg. The DOJ investigation of Facebook was announced September 26.

The current antitrust laws (known as the Sherman Act) outlaw “every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade,” and any “monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize.” If Facebook is found to have purposely acquired up-and-coming platforms to keep itself at the top of the food chain, it could be be bad news for the world’s biggest social networking company.

Facebook was already hit with a $5 billion penalty as part of a settlement with the FTC in July. The historic settlement is a result of violations by Facebook of a previous settlement with the FTC in 2012. The three investigations into antitrust laws could lead to even more legal trouble for Facebook. 

Digital Trends reached out to Facebook for comment on the attorneys general investigation, and we’ll update this story if we hear back. 

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