- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2019

Facebook is the focus of an antitrust investigation being led by regulators from eight states and Washington, D.C., New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday.

The probe will focus on Facebook’s “dominance in the industry and the potential anticompetitive conduct stemming from that dominance,” her announcement 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,” Ms. James said in a statement.

Other regulators investigating Facebook for possible antitrust violations include the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia, Ms. James added.

Will Castleberry, Facebook vice president of state and local policy, said in a statement Friday that Facebook already faces competition on a number of fronts.

“People have multiple choices for every one of the services we provide,” Mr. Castleberry said. “We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face, not only in the U.S. but around the globe. We will work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.”

Launched in 2004 as a social networking site exclusively for students of select U.S. colleges, Facebook has swelled over the past 15 years to boast more than 2 billion monthly active users across the platform as of June 2017.

Facebook expanded operations beyond its flagship product in the interim, and the company currently controls two widely popular smartphone messaging apps — Messenger and WhatsApp — in addition to the Instagram photo- and video-sharing service it acquired in 2012, among other products.

State attorneys general are not the first antitrust regulators to recently set their sights on Facebook.

The House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on antitrust issues announced in June that its members would investigate potential antitrust violations on the part of major tech companies, including Facebook, and has since held related hearings on Capitol Hill.

Facebook confirmed in a quarterly report filed the following month that the company is facing a separate antitrust investigation conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile. That disclosure came the same day the FTC announced a $5 billion settlement with Facebook for mishandling user data.

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