PALM BEACH, FL – In September, word started circulating across major media that Google (GOOGL) was expected to face scrutiny by 50 U.S attorney generals regarding alleged bias and antitrust violations from the tech giants advertising and search businesses.
The probe, which would be the first of its kind since Microsoft was sued in 1998, was expected to potentially expand into other areas of the business later in the investigation.
It’s an investigation to determine the facts,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said during a press conference outside the US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. “Right now, it’s about advertising, but the facts will lead where they lead.”Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
Unfortunately for Google, rival companies such as Yelp are more than happy to contribute what they know helping during in the investigation process in any way they can.
It is heartening to see the news today that nearly every state attorney general in the country has joined a historic and bipartisan investigation into these illegal and anticompetitive practices,” Yelp’s Luther Lowe, senior vice president of public policy, wrote on Monday. “Yelp will continue to assist with this investigation in whatever way we can.”Luther Lowe, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Yelp
Paxton, who is leading the investigation added:
There is nothing wrong with a business becoming the biggest game in town if it does so through free market competition, but we have seen evidence that Google’s business practices may have undermined consumer choice, stifled innovation, violated users’ privacy, and put Google in control of the flow and dissemination of online information.”Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
A similar case against Facebook (FB), led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, is said to have been ‘vastly expanded’ and has now gained support from a total of 47 attorneys general from around the nation.
After continued bipartisan conversations with attorneys general from around the country, today I am announcing that we have vastly expanded the list of states, districts, and territories investigating Facebook for potential antitrust violations. Our investigation now has the support of 47 attorneys general from around the nation, who are all concerned that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising. As we continue our investigation, we will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions stifled competition and put users at risk.”New York Attorney General Letitia James
The press release also contained additional statements from 17 supporting attorney generals with similar sentiments.
The multi-state Facebook investigation was announced in September shortly after the talk of the similar Google probe and began with just seven states and was intended to “zero in” on whether Facebook broke state or federal laws for anti-competitive conduct related to its dominance of social media.
Facebook is facing other antitrust investigations by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission related to the handling of user data including its acquisitions of other tech startups. From the 2020 presidential campaign trail, several Democratic presidential candidates including Elizabeth Warren have called for breaking up big tech companies saying they they are just too big and powerful.
“Today’s big tech companies,” Warren said, announcing her policy to break them up, “[they] have too much power – too much power over our economy, our society and our democracy.”2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren
While speaking at the The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live summit Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said that breaking up companies such as Google and Facebook is “perfectly on the table” stating that “Big is not bad,” but “Big behaving badly is bad.”
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®