Barr And State AGs Discuss Big Tech Monopolies As 'Flipped' Facebook Co-Founder Helps Devise Antitrust Action

A bipartisan group of eight state attorneys general met with US Attorney General William Barr on Thursday to discuss "the real concerns consumers across the country have with big tech companies stifling competition," according to Politico

"Our bipartisan coalition of eight state attorneys general was pleased with the opportunity to meet with U.S. Attorney General Barr to talk about the real concerns consumers across the country have with big tech companies stifling competition on the internet," reads a joint statement from the state AGs, which include Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. 

A Justice Department spokesperson declined comment. Some of the states that had planned to attend the meeting, including Nebraska and Arizona, have opened inquiries into Google’s practices. Representatives from the Nebraska and Arizona offices did not immediately return requests for comment.

The potential state action adds yet another layer to the growing scrutiny of the power of online platforms. In announcing its antitrust review this week, the DOJ said it will consider “widespread concerns” expressed about search, social media and online retail services. -Politico

Meanwhile, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is has been meeting with regulators to make the case for breaking up the social media giant, according to the New York Times

Chris Hughes has joined leading academics to argue to government officials that Facebook has engaged in anticompetitive behavior for almost a decade. (Photo: Vincent Tullo for The New York Times)

In recent weeks, Mr. Hughes has joined two leading antitrust academics, Scott Hemphill of New York University and Tim Wu of Columbia University, in meetings with the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department and state attorneys general. In those meetings, the three have laid out a potential antitrust case against Facebook, Mr. Wu and Mr. Hemphill said.

For nearly a decade, they argue, Facebook has made “serial defensive acquisitions” to protect its dominant position in the market for social networks, according to slides they have shown government officials. By scooping up nascent rivals, they assert, Facebook has thwarted potential competitors, making it easier for the social network to charge advertisers higher prices and to offer a worse experience for users. -New York Times

"Mr. Hughes’s involvement stands out because few founders have gone on to argue for the dismantling of their company," adds the Times

Facebook announced on Wednesday that the FTC had begun an antitrust investigation into the company, while the DOJ and lawmakers have embarked on their own antitrust review of the tech industry.