FTC wins right for competition probe at Facebook: WSJ

(Reuters) - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has secured the right to examine how Facebook Inc’s practices affect its digital competition, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Facebook is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Shares of the social media giant were down nearly 7% in trading on the Nasdaq.

The news on Facebook underscores a growing U.S. backlash faced by Silicon Valley companies and marks another step by the Trump administration to regulate the biggest tech and social media companies.

Trump, without providing evidence, has repeatedly accused social media companies and Google of suppressing conservative voices online.

The FTC's new jurisdiction results from an agreement that allows the U.S. Justice Department to take the reins of a similar Google probe, the WSJ report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Reuters and other media reported on Friday that the Justice Department may investigate Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc , to determine whether the technology company violated laws to ensure fair competition.

Shares of Alphabet fell as much as 7% on Monday, their biggest drop outside earnings since April 2011.

U.S. antitrust regulators have divided oversight of Inc and Google, putting Amazon under the watch of the FTC and Google under the Justice Department, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while the FTC declined to comment.

Last month, Facebook co-founder and former Mark Zuckerberg roommate Chris Hughes called for the break up of the social network in an opinion piece in the New York Times.

He wrote that company CEO Zuckerberg had unprecedented power and said U.S. regulators needed to take action. At the time, Facebook rejected the calls for a breakup.

Facebook owns the largest social network with more than 2 billion users across the world. It also owns WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, each used by more than 1 billion people.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Maju Samuel and Steve Orlofsky