Facebook probe by U.S. states expands to 47 attorneys general

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A New York-led probe into allegations that Facebook Inc FB.O put consumer data at risk and pushed up advertising rates has expanded to include attorneys general from 47 U.S. states and territories, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Tuesday.

The investigation of Facebook announced in September had included Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. It now includes most U.S. states as well as the U.S. territory of Guam.

Facebook shares closed down 3.9% at $182.34 on Tuesday.

The statement provided a list of states involved in the probe and added that other states “cannot confirm their participation in pending investigations.” California, the largest state by population, was not on the list.

Some states, particularly New York and Nebraska, have raised concerns that Facebook and other big tech companies engage in anti-competitive practices, expose consumer data to potential data theft and push up advertising prices.

Facebook said that its users had multiple choices for the services that the company provides.

“We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face,” said Will Castleberry, vice president, state and local policy, at Facebook. “We will work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.”

Facebook also faces probes by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The Facebook investigations are part of a larger landscape of probes of big tech firms.

Reuters and others reported in June that the Justice Department and FTC had divided responsibility for the companies being investigated, with the Justice Department taking on Alphabet Inc's Google GOOGL.O and Apple Inc AAPL.O while the FTC looked into Facebook and Inc AMZN.O.

The Justice Department later said it was opening a probe of online platforms, which would include Facebook.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Bill Berkrot