It began in New York several months ago with an announcement by Attorney General Letitia James regarding possible antitrust violations, by social media’s Facebook.
At the time James also announced that she was leading a multi-state investigation, in which 7-other bipartisan state attorneys general had also signed on to the probe. Attorney’s General in the state of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia had put out a news release explaining the focus of their probe highlighting “Facebook’s dominance in the industry and the potential anti-competitive conduct stemming from that dominance.”
In the new release, James emphasized the reason why she began the probe stating, “Even the largest social media platform in the world must follow the law and respect consumers. I am proud to be leading a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in investigating whether Facebook has stifled competition and put users at risk.”
Adding, “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.”
The 60-year old Democrat followed her prepared statement with a tweet announcing the multi-state investigation.
“BREAKING: I’m launching an investigation into Facebook to determine whether their actions endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising.”
“The largest social media platform in the world must follow the law”.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) September 6, 2019
Fast forward to the present and what started out as a New York State initiative with 7-state attorneys general, has mushroomed to approximately 40 state attorneys general coming on board to take part in a New York-led antitrust investigation of Facebook, reflecting a broadening belief among the country’s top Democrats and Republicans that the tech giant may be undermining its social-networking rivals.
On Monday, Facebook reminded the investigators of the firm’s previous statement from Will Castleberry, the company’s vice president of state and local policy, who said the company, would “work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.”
The expanding probe by state lawmakers regarding Facebook and other tech companies in Silicon Valley illustrates a broad bipartisan concern that giant tech companies like Google have become too big and powerful, harming consumers and corporate rivals.
In Texas the state attorney general is leading a probe into Google’s advertising business, focusing on the companies advertising guidelines and its business model, and whether it purposely infringes on smaller tech companies or its users.
The probe by the roughly 40-states is in addition to two other antitrust investigations of the colossal social-networking giant taking in place in Washington, by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
Currently, the FTC is looking into Facebook’s recent securities filings and the firm’s past acquisitions, most notably Instagram and WhatsApp, for possible violations of antitrust law.
Last week an extremely testy Zuckerberg pretended he was crime boss Vito Corleone from the epic movie “The Godfather” vowing to “go to the mat” on antitrust during a private conversation with employees, which turned out to be not so private, after a technology news site called the Verge publicized the conversation.
In another made for TV moment presidential wanna-be Sen. Elizabeth Warren publicly went on the record going after tech companies residing in Silicon Valley on antitrust grounds, which once again agitated Zuckerberg.
“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,” he said. “And does that still suck for us? Yeah.”
Adding, “I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government,” he continued. “I mean, that’s not the position that you want to be in when you’re, you know, I mean … it’s like, we care about our country and want to work with our government and do good things. 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.”