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Google, Facebook to be hit with state antitrust probes

Daniella Genovese

Dozens of state attorneys general are set to formally launch separate antitrust probes starting next week into Facebook and Alphabet's Google unit, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Google probe is expected to be announced Monday at a news conference outside the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Journal.

The investigation, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with a bipartisan group of about three dozen state attorneys general, will examine Google's impact on digital advertising markets, focusing on potentially harmful information provided to consumers and ad choices.

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James, with an overlapping bipartisan group of attorneys general, is organizing a probe into Facebook, the "largest social media platform in the world must follow the law."

“The attorneys general involved have concerns over the control of personal data by large tech companies and will hold them accountable for anticompetitive practices that endanger privacy and consumer data," James told the Journal.

This comes at a time when tech giants are already under federal scrutiny.

“This news along with the broader Senate hearing looking into whether these Tech giants bought up smaller competitors to remain dominant in their respective markets represents an overhang to each stock," according to a team of Wedbush analysts led by Dan Ives. However, the analysts further mention that investors should "focus on the fundamentals in the near-term as any resolution of these probes would likely take many years to complete."

A spokesperson for Google told FOX Business: "Google'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." 

Will Castleberry, vice president of State and Local Public Policy and Community Engagement for Facebook, released the following statement ahead of the formal investigation into the tech giant.

"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.”

FOX Business’ correspondent Hillary Vaughn contributed to this report.

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