Facebook faces multistate antitrust probe, vows to “work constructively with attorneys general”

Facebook under investigation by New York Attorney General for Collecting Users' Contact Lists Without Consent

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is facing a multistate investigation into the possibility that it violated antitrust laws.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading the probe, which she announced on Friday.

In a statement, AG James said she is working with the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia to determine whether Facebook is taking advantage of its dominance to prevent competition.

“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,” said AG James.

She added, “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.”

Facebook welcomes the states’ inquiry

In response to AG James’ announcement, Facebook’s Vice President of State and Local Policy Will Castleberry released a statement indicating that the social media giant welcomes the multistate investigation.

According to Castleberry, “People have multiple choices for every one of the services we provide. We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face, not only in the US but around the globe.”

In addition, he said they will “work constructively with the attorneys general” and they “welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.”

The beginning of “state activism” to enforce antitrust law

Meanwhile, Diana Moss, president of the American Antirust Institute commented that the inquiry marks the start of “state activism” to enforce anticompetitive laws. She believes that the states’ action is a “needed counterpoint to weak enforcement.”

The multistate antitrust investigation comes after the social media giant agreed to pay $5 billion to resolve a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that it mishandled consumers’ personal data and violated their privacy.