In context: Facebook faces new antitrust scrutiny as New York State Attorney General Letitia James recently launched a joint investigation into several new violations of competition laws. Investors didn't react to the announcement, and the last time the social giant got fined they rallied to add two times the value of the fine to the company's market cap.
Several US states have started investigating Facebook for alleged anticompetitive practices. The multi-state action is led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who made a public statement earlier today.
The Attorney General enlisted the help of attorneys general in Tennessee, Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia. It's also worth noting that this is a bipartisan alliance, and takes issue with several aspects of Facebook's business.
James notes that "even the largest social media platform in the world must follow the law and respect consumers," referring, of course, to the fact that Facebook bought its biggest competitors in that market segment. Interestingly, the company is going through some branding changes to make it more obvious that it owns both Instagram and WhatsApp.
Even the underlying infrastructure is being unified to make the social giant harder to break up, but the multi-state probe means a lot more eyes are going to be watching its every move. James says the joint effort 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."
This comes just one month after the FTC announced it was opening a new investigation into the company's many acquisitions, so Facebook will have a lot on their plate for the coming year.
To the company's credit, it has been trying to wash away some of its bad reputation with several positive changes. For one, it will no longer scan your face by default and is considering hiding like counts from new posts. It will also hire journalists to prevent fake news from achieving critical mass on its platform, and has committed millions of dollars towards the development of better tools to detect deepfakes.