On Friday, an alliance of US states unveiled an antitrust probe against Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB). This is the first of what is seen to be a wave of action against big tech companies.
Seven states to probe Facebook
Letitia James, the New York State Attorney General, announced the investigations on behalf of the coalition. There are seven states, including the District of Columbia that are planning to investigate Facebook on whether it has hindered competition and put its users at risk. The attorney generals of Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa, and Colorado are part of the action.
This move is the first wave if antitrust probes expected against big tech companies. It highlights the growing “techlash” regarding concerns raised against the social media giant. Attorney General Letitia indicated that even these large tech companies should follow the law and show respect for consumers.
Letitia said that the coalition would employ every investigative tool at their disposal to ascertain whether the company’s actions may have put consumer data at risk. They equally seek to investigate whether the company increased the price of advertising and minimized the quality of consumer choices.
Facebook probe on stifling of competition
At the beginning of this year, the Department of Justice announced that it was launching a review on social media platforms. The aim was to determine whether the companies owning the online platforms had reduced competition and hindered innovation. It is still not clear whether the state attorneys will collaborate with federal authorities.
In the past Facebook has laid claims that it is not a monopoly and that users have a wide range of choices to pick from on how they connect with others online.
The investigation confirms how unease with the tech companies is growing beyond federal authorities, Congress, and now to the states. Michael Carrier, an antitrust professor at Rutgers University, states that there is growing fear regarding the control that social medial companies have in our lives.
There is growing “techlash,” and this probe is one among the many rising cases. A separate coalition is set to unveil an antitrust probe against Google.