US states announce antitrust probe of Facebook – Tech

A coalition of US states announced on Friday a Facebook antitrust investigation to determine if the social media giant has hindered competition and puts users at risk.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement announcing the action on behalf of seven other states and the District of Columbia. The attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, joined the action, according to James.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a AFP Ask about the ad.

The measure marks the first official antitrust action of the United States against one of the so-called Big Tech companies, although a historical case had pointed to Microsoft in the 1990s.

"Even the world's largest social media platform must follow the law and respect consumers," said James.

"We will use all the research tools at our disposal to determine if Facebook's actions can jeopardize consumer data, reduce the quality of consumer choices or increase the price of advertising."

Earlier this year, the US Department of Justice. UU. He said he would launch a "review" of the main online platforms to determine whether they have stifled innovation or reduced competition.

It was not immediately clear if the states would work in coordination with federal officials.

Facebook, by far the largest social network, in the past has claimed that it is not a monopoly and that consumers have many options on how to connect with people online.

The research "shows how discomfort with large technology companies is spreading beyond Congress and federal government agencies to the states. With each passing day, there is a greater fear that these companies control our lives online," said Michael Carrier, professor of antitrust law at Rutgers University.

"Facebook in particular has received attention for its WhatsApp and Instagram acquisitions. Is that too much power in a company? Should those acquisitions be undone? States are likely to focus on issues like these."

Sign of & # 39; techlash & # 39;

The case may be the first in a series of antitrust actions against Big Tech companies and highlights the growing "techlash" based on concerns about the dominant platforms that control the flow of information.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a separate coalition of states was established to launch an antitrust action against Google on Monday.

When asked about the report, Google spokesman José Castaneda said: “Google services help people every day, create more options for consumers and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country. We continue to work constructively with regulators, including attorney generals, to answer questions about our business and the dynamic technology sector. "

Amazon and Apple may also be targeted by antitrust agents.

Critics have complained that Amazon exercises too much power in online retail, and that Apple may harm rivals that offer services in its app store.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has divided large technology companies as part of her campaign platform.

But some legal analysts say that the case against technology companies faces challenges because in many cases companies have provided free services and lowered prices, making it difficult to prove that they harmed "consumer welfare", the legal standard applied under judicial precedents.

In the European Union, Google has faced a series of antitrust actions and now Amazon is under attack by the executors.



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