Justice Department piles on with its own antitrust investigation of Facebook

Facebook is facing yet another federal probe, this time from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for possibly violating antitrust laws. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently opened a separate antitrust investigation as well. 

Bloomberg reports that the two federal agencies are looking into whether Facebook has violated antitrust laws by harming competition. U.S. Attorney General William Barr urged the DOJ to investigate separately from the FTC. 

The DOJ is focusing on a separate issue from the FTC’s investigation, Bloomberg reports. The FTC investigation is focusing on whether or not Facebook tried to acquire its social media rivals before they would become a threat to its business, specifically platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Aside from the FTC and the DOJ, a bipartisan coalition consisting of attorneys general from eight states and the District of Colombia is also investigating the social media giant for antitrust violations, alleging Facebook “stifled competition” in a way that may have impacted user data and ad prices. Along with New York, the coalition includes the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C.

This new investigation comes on the heels of a $5 billion settlement between the FTC and Facebook that was agreed upon on July 24. The historic settlement is a result of violations Facebook made of a previous settlement with the FTC in 2012. 

While Facebook has been at the forefront of investigations and the topic of “breaking up Big Tech,” it is not the only platform that could be breaking antitrust laws. 

The Department of Justice announced a broad antitrust review into Big Tech, most likely including Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google, on July 23. The department initially provided few details, only saying they would look into, “whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.” 

Current antitrust laws prohibit “every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade” and “monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize.” Facebook leads the list of social media networks with 2.41 billion monthly active users on Facebook itself and 2.7 billion people using at least one Facebook-owned app, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger.

Digital Trends reached out to Facebook and the DOJ for comment, but we haven’t yet received a response. 

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