Fifty US states and territories, led by Texas, on Monday announced an investigation into Google's "potential monopolistic behavior." The announcement closely followed one from a separate group of states Friday that disclosed an investigation into Facebook's market dominance. The two probes widen the antitrust scrutiny of big tech companies beyond sweeping federal and congressional investigations and enforcement action by European regulators, the AP reports. Nebraska attorney general Doug Peterson, a Republican, said at a press conference held in Washington that 50 attorneys general joining together sends a "strong message to Google." California and Alabama are not part of the investigation, although it does include the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Tara Gallegos, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, declined to confirm or deny any state investigation and would not comment on the announcement by the other states. Mike Lewis, a spokesman for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, also said the state's legal team had no comment on the probe. Google expects the state authorities will ask the company about past similar investigations in the US and internationally, senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker wrote in a blog post Friday. Experts believe the probe could focus on at least one of three areas that have caught regulators' eyes: online advertising, the company's search platform, and Android, its smartphone operating system. One outcome antitrust regulators might explore is forcing Google to spin off search as a separate company, experts say. (Click for more on the probe.)