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New York AG Leads Antitrust Investigation Into Social Media Platform

On September 6, New York's attorney general announced that she will lead an antitrust investigation focused on Facebook. The leadership team conducting the investigation also includes the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia. According to the announcement, the investigation "focuses on Facebook's dominance in the industry and the potential anticompetitive conduct stemming from that dominance."

The New York AG's announcement arrives on the heels of similar announcements by other government agencies. In July, Facebook stated in its second quarter earnings report that it was informed in June that the Federal Trade Commission had opened an antitrust investigation of the company. Facebook also noted in the report that the U.S. Department of Justice had announced its own antitrust investigation that same month into "market-leading online platforms."

According to the DOJ's statement concerning the investigation, it is looking into whether these online platforms are undertaking practices "that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers." The DOJ further explained that its goal "is to assess the competitive conditions in the online marketplace in an objective and fair-minded manner. ..."

Separately, the DOJ in July also announced the extension of leniency considerations to corporations that maintain antitrust compliance programs meeting certain criteria. As these various investigations confirm, there is no industry immune from antitrust investigation. Corporations in all industries are wise to ensure that their antitrust compliance programs are up to date, effective, and, at the very least, implemented.

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