Breaking Up Big Tech: Facebook, Google Now Face 4 Separate Antitrust Investigations
Topline: Facebook and Google now face four separate antitrust investigations in a bipartisan effort to probe whether Big Tech should be broken up, which includes a sweeping effort against Google from 50 state attorneys general announced on Monday.
- Google is under investigation for allegedly prioritizing its own services and products in search results and on its Android operating system, and whether its dominance in the online advertising industry is unfair to small businesses.
- While Facebook has been criticized for its handling of privacy, misinformation and hate speech, lawmakers are now questioning whether Facebook has any meaningful competition, especially for users who want to jump ship due to how much user data the company collects.
- Investigators may also be looking at Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram.
- The European Union has already levied fines against Google and Facebook for anticompetitive practices.
Will Castleberry, Facebook’s vice president of state and local policy, said in a statement last week that “people have multiple choices for every one of the services we provide.”
In a blog post, Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, said, “We look forward to showing how we are investing in innovation, providing services that people want, and engaging in robust and fair competition.”
Here are the investigations:
Federal Trade Commission: The FTC has already investigated and fined Facebook for its privacy practices, but it also started its own antitrust investigation into the company in June.
The FTC also has the authority to investigate Amazon for possible antitrust violations.
Department of Justice: The DOJ is conducting a sweeping review of the power and dominance of Big Tech, which will likely include Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. The Wall Street Journal reported the DOJ might explore different tech practices or legal theories than the FTC in its probe of Amazon and Facebook.
Congress: The House of Representatives is conducting an investigation into Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, and results of the investigation may inform changes in antitrust laws that would make it easier to break up these companies.
States Attorneys General: Eight states and Washington, D.C., are investigating Facebook, while a larger group of attorneys general from 48 states (plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.) announced Monday they are investigating Google, focusing on whether it holds too much power in the advertising industry.
California, where Google is based, and Alabama are the only states that haven’t signed on to the probe. The California AG office said in a statement it hasn’t decided whether to join the investigation. Alabama’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes