October 7, 2019 / 5:24 PM / 16 days ago

Facebook the focus of U.S. Justice Dept and state AGs meeting: sources

FILE PHOTO: Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of state attorneys general, including New York Attorney General Letitia James, met Monday with U.S. Attorney General William Barr to discuss a state-level probe of Facebook Inc, two people briefed on the matter confirmed.

The meeting comes after Reuters and other outlets reported on Sept. 25 that the Justice Department would open an antitrust investigation into Facebook, which also faces probes by the Federal Trade Commission and the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The state attorneys general probe into Facebook, announced in September, is being led by New York and also includes Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

The meeting also included Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and antitrust assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim, the sources said. Facebook declined to comment, but Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg told employees he expected the company would be able to defeat a legal challenge to breakup the company.

Axios reported the plans for the meeting earlier.

James said in September that the states’ investigation would look into whether Facebook’s actions had endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices or increased the price of advertising.

Facebook, which owns one-time rivals Instagram and WhatsApp and has 2.4 billion monthly users, agreed in July to pay a $5-billion FTC settlement for various privacy violations.

Reuters and others reported in June that the Justice and FTC had divided up responsibility for the companies being investigated, with the Justice Department taking Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc while the FTC looked at Facebook and Amazon.com Inc.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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