Facebook and Google Face Multiple Antitrust Suits in the U.S.

Posted on November 30, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Google, Social with 4 Comments

A new report claims that Facebook and Google will both face multiple federal and state antitrust lawsuits by the end of January 2021.

The Wall Street Journal, citing multiple sources, says that federal and state regulators are preparing four or more antitrust cases against the two online giants, separate from the antitrust case that the DOJ and 11 states launched against Google in October. All of the cases are related to the firm’s dominant gatekeeper roles online, with the Google cases focused on search and advertising and the Facebook cases related to social media.

“The supportive chorus of elected officials is giving assurance to [the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)] and the [Federal Trade Commission (FTC)] that they have the political support they need to blunt [the companies’] efforts … to pressure the agencies to back off or water down their cases,” former FTC Chairman William Kovacic told the publication.

Google is no stranger to antitrust action—in addition to the U.S. case, it is embroiled in several antitrust cases in the EU as well—but this will be the first time that Facebook has faced formal charges. The FTC could announce its case against Facebook “in the coming days,” the WSJ says, and it could be combined with separate suits brought by various state attorneys general.

“We will continue to use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions stifled competition, reduced choices, or put user data at risk,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said of her state’s investigation.

Facebook and Google aren’t alone under the antitrust spotlight, of course. Various antitrust agencies are also investigating Amazon and Apple too, in each case for abusing their own dominant positions in various markets. The FTC is investigating whether Amazon unfairly abuses its eCommerce power to compete unfairly against both competitors and partners. And the DOJ is looking at Apple’s many App Store abuses. Both firms also face antitrust scrutiny in the EU and elsewhere.

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