YAY! IT'S FACEBOOK Friday! Yes, almost every Friday, a story about Facebook breaks just as we're all thinking about heading to the pub and we have to decide which is more important.
Reader, this time, you win. It's a biggie.
Eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, have announced a class action in the New York courts to investigate anti-competitive and unethical behaviour from the social media giant. This is in addition to the US Federal Trade Commission investigation, currently ongoing.
State officials from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee are joining forces with Columbia and they're not pulling punches:
"We will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook's actions may have endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers' choices, or increased the price of advertising," said New York Attorney General Letitia James of the action.
Facebook's response was bullish, pointing out that some people should be careful what they wish for - it's a case of innovate or die (a lesson that MySpace can attest to):
"We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face, not only in the United States but around the globe,".
Facebook has always denied it is a monopoly and it offers a wide range of options for how much data is revealed. But despite many attempts, there is nothing even remotely like Facebook with a fraction of the market share, and that alone could lead critics to conclude that even if it doesn't mean to be, its market dominance is too much.
The question is, given that the company is now so big that throwing fines at it barely causes a graze, what exactly can lawmakers do to redress the situation? The obvious thing would be to make it split off services like Instagram and Whatsapp, but in itself, that's not going to make much of a difference to the biggest part of its empire - in other words, Facebook is potentially even a monopoly against its own sister services.
That's one way of looking at it, anyway. μ
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