Va. joins other states to investigate Facebook

Va. joins other states to investigate Facebook

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia has joined 47 other attorneys general to investigate Facebook’s business practices for possible antitrust violations.

There 2.4 billion people around the world who are part of Facebook, as the social media titan is constantly expanding - adding services like Whats-App and Instagram under its belt.

That growth, however, is worrying to some.

“We’re really going to take a broad look at it to see whether competition was unlawfully stifled or consumer choices were limited in ways that violated our antitrust laws,” said Attorney General Mark Herring

Attorney General Herring is one of the dozens of attorneys general investigating the website. They are concerned Facebook may have put user data at risk while reducing consumer choices and increasing the price of advertising.

“These companies grow so fast, and they dominate our lives in so many ways. It’s really important to promote competition for consumer choice to keep prices down and quality of consumer services up,” Herring said.

These problems were dealt with centuries ago, against single corporations, called ‘trusts’, that seemingly controlled their entire industries.

“The United States passed an act called the Sherman Act, which was anti-trust, in an attempt to try and break up these big, monopolistic companies,” said attorney John Cole Gayle, Jr.

He says at the time the Sherman Act was passed, products came in the form of actual, physical goods. Now, products now come also as information and services.

“If companies are operating a monopolistic way so that we are only getting a one-sided view, that would be an anti-competitive or anti-trust type of a practice," he said.

“Big tech and social media companies like Facebook must comply with antitrust laws that promote competition and choice, and consumer protection laws that guard the privacy and personal data of users,” said Herring on Tuesday. “Given Facebook’s nearly unprecedented influence in so many sectors of the economy and political process, this bipartisan coalition of attorneys general is committed to ensuring that Facebook is complying with the law and meeting its obligations.”

Tuesday’s announcement comes as Herring has also announced that he is investigating Google’s business practices.

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