Technology

States push forward with Facebook antitrust case, reportedly probe VR unit

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general are pushing forward with their antitrust investigations into Facebook parent company Meta, with an appeal in their case based on its prior acquisitions and a reported new joint inquiry with the federal government on the company’s virtual reality unit. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) led a coalition of 48 attorneys general Friday in filing an appeal arguing that a district court judge’s dismissal of their case against Facebook, initially filed in December 2020, was in error. 

“Time and again, the social media giant has used its market dominance to force small companies out of business and reduce competition for millions of users. We’re filing this appeal with the support of almost every state in the nation because we will always fight efforts to stifle competition, reduce innovation, and cut privacy protections, even when we face a goliath like Facebook,” James said in a statement

The latest effort by the states comes after a judge on Tuesday denied Facebook’s motion to dismiss the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) complaint against it, which was filed at the same time as the states’. 

As the attorneys general and FTC push forward with their cases, they’re also reportedly probing Meta’s virtual reality unit, Oculus, over potential anticompetitive practices, Bloomberg reported on Friday

The FTC and a group of states led by New York have questioned outside developers that make Oculus apps in recent months, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg. 

A spokesperson for the FTC declined to comment. Spokespeople for the New York attorney’s general office and Meta did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The reported probe into Oculus comes as Meta looks to expand into the virtual reality sector. Facebook rebranded itself under the name Meta late last year, when CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg discussed plans for the company to expand options in the “metaverse.” 

Antitrust enforcers asked developers how the Oculus app store may be discriminating against third parties that sell apps that compete with Meta’s software, and about Meta’s sales strategy for its Oculus headset, Bloomberg reported.

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