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Facebook and Google are targeted by state antitrust probes



State attorneys from both parties are increasing the pressure on Facebook and Google with antitrust probes in their practice.

On Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she plans to investigate potential competitive practices from Facebook and its dominance. of the social media industry. The investigation may cover several areas, including privacy, data collection and monopolistic business practices.

“Even the largest social media platform in the world must follow the law and respect consumers. I am proud to lead a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general to investigate whether Facebook has stifled competition and put users at risk, said James, a Democrat, in a statement. "We will use every survey tool available to determine if Facebook's actions may have endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumer choices or increased the cost of advertising."

Attorneys for general from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington, DC, will also join the probe.

Dozens of state attorneys are generally expected to join a Google antitrust probe, according to multiple media reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, will lead the investigation. It will be announced at a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on Monday and involve about three dozen state attorneys general.

“People have several choices for each of the services we provide. We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform, says Will Castleberry, vice president of Facebook, state and local politics, in a statement to Recode. “This underlines the competition we face, not only in the United States but across the world. We want to work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with politicians about the competitive environment we operate in. "

In a statement to Recode, Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said the search giant looks forward to" working with the attorneys general answering questions about our business and the dynamic technology sector ”and defended Google's practices. "Google's services help people every day, create more choices for consumers and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country," he said.

State attorneys have been effective in bringing up technical antitrust cases before. In the 1

990s antitrust case against Microsoft, about 20 state attorneys general joined the Department of Justice in civil actions against the company if it used Windows to harm competitors. Originally, a judge ruled that the company needed to be split, but later it was overturned and Microsoft agreed to lift some of the Windows barriers for third-party software developers.

Big Tech is increasingly in the antitrust limelight

Tech companies have been under greater scrutiny in recent months with regard to their business practices, including competition issues.

In July, the Department of Justice announced a sweeping antitrust notification that, although it did not name names, made it clear that Facebook, Google and Amazon were on the agenda. The department said it would investigate "whether and how market-leading online platforms have gained market power and are engaged in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation or otherwise harmed consumers."

The FTC is also investigating Facebook over antitrust cases. This summer, it hit Facebook with a $ 5 billion fine for user privacy violations as part of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. And earlier this week, Google was fined $ 170 million for violating children's privacy laws. It is good policy for both parties right now to follow Big Tech. On the left you have numbers like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and right-wing Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO). Hawley was a former Missouri attorney general and launched probes by Facebook and Google from that perch. Hawley has introduced several bills that seek to crack down on social media.

As Recode's Teddy Schleifer reported in June, polls show that Americans are increasingly skeptical of technology:

Take Harris Poll, who surveys Americans about the company's reputation from different companies. Google's reputation fell 13 places in Harris' latest poll released in 2019, one of the most abrupt falls in the survey. One of the few companies that saw more reputation? Facebook, which dropped 43 tracks on the 100-member list to be about as popular – or unpopular, depending on how you look at it – as other scandal-plagued companies like Wells Fargo and the Trump Organization.

The New York Times Friday outlined more than a dozen ways that Facebook and Google, along with Amazon and Apple, "are in high chairs for the government." In addition to DOJ, the FTC and state agencies, Congress and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are also involved in probes. In 2018, HUD filed a lawsuit against housing discrimination against Facebook, stating that it allowed landlords and home sellers to discriminate against potential buyers and tenants with its advertising platform.


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