The European Commission has escalated a probe into Meta Platforms’ classified ads service, sending antitrust charges over the tying of its marketplace platform with its social media network, in a move that could see the company fined or ordered to change how it runs its business.
“Our preliminary concern is that Meta ties its dominant social network Facebook to its online classified ad services called Facebook Marketplace,” said European Union’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager. “This means Facebook users have no choice but to have access to Facebook Marketplace.”
Vestager added that the EU’s antitrust enforcers are also concerned about Meta imposing “unfair tradition conditions” that allow it to use the data of online classified ads services which those businesses cannot access.
It’s the first time that Meta has been accused by the EU of abusing its dominant position. The company got a €110 million EU fine five years ago for failing to supply correct information during the EU’s merger review of the WhatsApp takeover. German antitrust regulators found its data collection practices abusive in 2017 and ordered it to stop tracking users outside of its social network, a case that’s still being challenged in court.
Meta rivals have complained that the firm unfairly links its Marketplace online classified ads service to its social network and was using non-public advertising data to optimize Marketplace. The Commission opened an investigation in June 2021.
The U.S. social media giant can now defend itself in writing and request a closed-door hearing with EU antitrust enforcers before the Commission makes a final decision on the charges.
The company can be fined up to 10 percent of its global turnover. Regulators also have the power to order companies to make changes to solve the competition problem, which could see the Meta separate Marketplace from its social media platform or allow rivals to access data used for the online classified ads service.
“The claims made by the European Commission are without foundation. We will continue to work with regulatory authorities to demonstrate that our product innovation is pro-consumer and pro-competitive,” said Tim Lamb, head of EMEA competition at Meta.
Meta faces a separate EU investigation into its 2018 “Jedi Blue” pact with Google that may have curbed competition in online advertising.
POLITICO previously reported that the charges would be leveled before the Christmas break.
This article has been updated.
Denial of responsibility! planetcirculate is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.