Facebook Marketplace in EU, UK Antitrust Crosshairs Over Use of Classified Ad Data

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The European Union and the United Kingdom have launched antitrust investigations into Facebook’s use of advertising data in its classified ads trade, probes that could force it to change its trade mannequin on top of hefty fines.

The European Commission and Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority are investigating if Facebook uses data from advertisers to compete with them.

The opening of European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s first antitrust probe into the world’s largest social network marks her latest fight with some of the US tech giants. The EU probe confirmed what a person familiar with the situation told Reuters on May 26.

Vestager has slapped more than EUR 8 billion (more or less Rs. 70,720 crores) in fines on Alphabet unit Google and could also be investigating Amazon and Apple.

Vestager will zoom in on Facebook’s huge trove of data from the close 7 million companies that put it on the market on Facebook.

“We can look in detail at if this data gives Facebook an undue competitive virtue in specific on the online classified ads sector, where people buy and sell goods on a daily basis, and where Facebook also competes with companies from which it collects data,” she said. “In today’s digital economy, data must not be used in ways that distort competition,” Vestager said. Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority also announced its own investigation into if the network is abusing its dominant position in social media or digital advertising through its collection and use of data.

Facebook said it’ll cooperate fully with both the EU and UK investigations “to illustrate that they’re without merit.”

It said its “marketplace and dating offer people more choices, both products function in highly competitive surroundings with many large incumbents”.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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