Tech

47 attorneys general are investigating Facebook for antitrust violations

Key Points
  • New York State Attorney General Letitia James announces that 47 attorneys general from states and U.S. territories plan to take part in a New York-led antitrust probe into Facebook.
  • The multistate investigation was announced in September.
  • The probe will zero in on whether Facebook broke any state or federal laws as a result of any anti-competitive conduct related to its dominance.
New York Attorney General Letitia James
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday that 47 attorneys general from states and U.S. territories plan to take part in a New York-led antitrust probe into Facebook. Shares of Facebook fell 3.9% on the news.

The multistate investigation was announced in September with participation from seven other states, but it has since expanded to nearly the entire country. The probe will zero in on whether Facebook broke any state or federal laws as a result of any anti-competitive conduct related to its dominance of social media.

"After continued bipartisan conversations with attorneys general from around the country, today I am announcing that we have vastly expanded the list of states, districts, and territories investigating Facebook for potential antitrust violations," James said in a statement. "Our investigation now has the support of 47 attorneys general from around the nation, who are all concerned that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers' choices, and increased the price of advertising. As we continue our investigation, we will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook's actions stifled competition and put users at risk."

VIDEO1:0801:08
Mark Zuckerberg arrives on Capitol Hill

Facebook already faces a separate antitrust investigation launched by the Federal Trade Commission in July. The probe was announced on the heels of the FTC's $5 billion fine against Facebook over its privacy policies.

Facebook and its rivals, including Google, Amazon and Apple, also face a separate probe from the U.S. Department of Justice. The probe, which opened in July, seeks to examine whether online platforms that dominate internet search, social media and retail services have "stifled innovation."

The New York-led probe initially included Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

Joining them are attorneys general from Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the territory of Guam. James said six other states can't confirm their participation in the investigation.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect 47 attorneys general from U.S. states and territories are involved in the Facebook antitrust probe.

VIDEO8:2008:20
The Verge's Nilay Patel: Facebook is gunning to become a regulated monopoly