Advance Notice: Briefs

Nessel joins Facebook antitrust probe

By: - October 22, 2019 1:09 pm
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was back before Congress on Wednesday. Last year, as seen here, he testified before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

State Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined dozens of other attorneys general from around the country in seeking to build an antitrust case against Facebook. 

The probe into whether the California-based social media giant has become a monopoly and stifled competition began weeks ago under New York Attorney General Letitia James. It now includes almost every other state attorney general, along with AGs in the District of Columbia and the territory of Guam. 

The statement from Nessel’s office notes that there are other states that have not yet confirmed whether they are participating in the antitrust probe. 

“Facebook has played a major role in shaping our global online economy as one of the largest social media platforms in the world,” Nessel said in a statement. “It is illegal for a business to use its market power to engage in anticompetitive conduct in an effort to achieve or maintain a monopoly.”

While Nessel and other attorneys general worry about Facebook’s power, she did find a use for the platform in February when she utilized it to serve a notice to someone who had committed a crime.

Last month, Nessel joined a similar probe with all 50 state attorneys general into whether Google has also engaged in antitrust behavior, as the Advance reported at the time.

In announcing that she was joining the Facebook investigation, Nessel said at issue was the personal data of Michigan citizens and their ability to maintain control.

“Our personal data is the biggest commodity in today’s online economy and, as the chief law enforcement officer of the state, it is my duty to ensure Michigan residents’ personal data doesn’t continue to be pillaged in a monopolist’s quest to control social media and advertising markets,” she said.

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.