In July, The Burn-In reported the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed to launch a comprehensive antitrust investigation into Big Tech. To avoid stepping on each other’s toes, the agencies agreed to divide their efforts. Consequently, the FTC decided to look into Facebook’s business practices while the DOJ examined Apple and Google’s operations.
However, a recent report from Bloomberg indicates the DOJ has launched its own inquiry into the social network’s conduct.
Why the DOJ is Investigating Facebook
According to the newsgathering service, the DOJ moved to investigate Facebook under orders from Attorney General William Barr. The official reportedly felt the organization needed more scrutiny in the current climate. Accordingly, DOJ’s antitrust investigators are examining alleged anticompetitive behavior by the social network that isn’t being covered by the FTC.
Initially, Barr’s mandate caused friction between the two regulatory agencies. Indeed, FTC Chairman Joe Simons penned a letter to the DOJ arguing the organization had intruded onto its territory. Furthermore, members of the Senate’s Antitrust Subcommittee chided Simons and DOJ Antitrust Division head Makan Delrahim about wasting taxpayer money pursuing the same investigation.
However, the two agencies have reportedly worked out their jurisdiction issues, and their separate inquiries are proceeding apace. Moreover, the FTC and DOJ aren’t the only regulatory organization scrutinizing the business practices of the social networking service.
Facebook v. The World
In early September, state attorneys general from seven states and the District of Columbia announced they were investigating Facebook. The group is looking to determine if the firm endangered user data, unfairly harmed competitors, or used its market dominance to inflate the price of web advertising. New York attorney general Letitia James noted, “The largest social media platform in the world must follow the law.”
Besides, in June, the House of Representatives Antitrust Subcommittee launched a probe into “abusive conduct by platform gatekeepers.” The lawmakers are conducting a series of hearings investigating the possibly illegal operations of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Chairman Dave Cicilline (D-R.I.) said the group is taking action to compensate for “decades of week antitrust enforcement.”
Also, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) recently stated the firm’s attempts to purchase neural interface company CTRL Labs might represent an antitrust violation. The Democratic presidential candidate said the company wants to acquire the startup to dominate the nascent wearables sector.
Notably, the United States is not the only nation to question Facebook’s operations recently. This summer, the European Union’s (EU) regulatory arm reportedly opened an inquiry into the social network’s sales and data sharing practices. The European Commission wants to know if the firm uses its vast stores of consumer data to undermine its rivals.
Indeed, EU antitrust head Margrethe Vestager said she wants to know if Facebook cuts off competitor access to user data to protect its market position.
On a related note, lawmakers and regulators from the United States, the European Union, and China have reacted negatively to Facebook’s Libra project. The global community believes the service can’t establish an unregulated counter financial system.