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Facebook and Google face US antitrust probes

US state attorneys general are preparing the way for antitrust investigations into Facebook and Google amid concerns about the companies’ so-called duopoly on online advertising.

Around 30 states have joined forces to investigate Google’s impact on privacy and competition, according to reports, while so far eight states have joined the Facebook probe.

Letitia James, the New York attorney general leading the investigation into the social media giant, said she would seek to “determine whether [Facebook’s] actions endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices or increased the price of advertising”.

The interventions mark just the latest in a series of US legal actions aimed at the tech sector. The Federal Trade Commission has launched its own probe investigating Amazon and Facebook over competition concerns. Both companies, alongside Google, are also in the cross-hairs of the Justice Department, which has expressed similar concerns.

A Google spokesperson said the company’s  “services help people every day, create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country. We continue to work constructively with regulators, including attorneys general, in answering questions about our business and the dynamic technology sector.”

Facebook’s state and local policy chief Will Castleberry said “people have multiple choices for every one of the services we provide. We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face, not only in the US but around the globe. We will work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.”

Facebook owns three of the world’s four most popular social media and messaging platforms: Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger. YouTube, the world’s second most popular platform, is owned by Google.