Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has officially joined seven other states and the District of Columbia in launching an investigation into Facebook for possible antitrust violations.
New York Attorney General Letitia James will lead the bipartisan coalition of attorneys general, she announced in a Friday press release.
“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,” James said. “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.”
Joining Ohio in the investigation are the attorneys general from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.
The press release states that the investigation will focus on “Facebook’s dominance in the industry and the potential anticompetitive conduct stemming from that dominance.”
Yost has yet to publicly comment on the investigation, but confirmed with The Ohio Star in late August that he was one of up to 20 attorneys general considering a joint antitrust probe of Facebook.
“Big data creates new problems for a free society. We are gathering information, and all our options are on the table,” Yost said in June.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced in July that it was reviewing “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.”
Around the same time, Facebook was ordered to pay a record $5 billion fine imposed by the Federal Trade Commission, which is also investigating Facebook for possible antitrust violations.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller released a statement Friday on his participation in the investigation of Facebook.
“Facebook’s dominance over communications and information is concerning, and that’s why we are joining this bipartisan coalition to examine whether the company has violated antitrust laws. The investigation is in its early stages and we have drawn no conclusions,” Miller said. “Our goal is to determine whether Facebook’s actions may have endangered user data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or stifled competition.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Dave Yost” by Dave Yost. Photo “Facebook-Mark Zuckerberg” by Christoph Scholz. CC BY-SA 2.0.