European Commission opens new investigation against Facebook
Facebook has been facing an antitrust investigation from the European Commission (EC) since Friday, which suspects that it has used the data collected from advertisers to compete with them in markets such as online classified ads, in violation of competition rules. community.
The Commission explained in a statement that the formal investigation will also look at whether Facebook links its online classifieds service ‘Facebook Marketplace’ to its social network, in breach of the competition rules of the European Union (EU).
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“Near 3 billion people use Facebook on a monthly basis and almost 7 million companies advertise on Facebook in total “, underlined the Executive Vice President of the EC and Head of Competition, Margrethe Vestager.
He added that the tech giant “collects vast amounts of data from user activities on its social network and beyond, allowing it to target specific groups of customers.”
“We will look closely at whether this data gives Facebook an undue competitive advantage, particularly in the online classifieds sector,” the Danish commissioner said. He recalled that in this sector Facebook competes with companies from which it also collects data: “In today’s digital economy, data should not be used in a way that distorts competition“Vestager stressed.
Close to 3 billion people use Facebook on a monthly basis and nearly 7 million businesses advertise on Facebook in total
Use of competitor data
As part of its investigation, the EC will examine in detail whether Facebook’s position on social media and online advertising enables it to harm competition in neighboring markets, where the company is also active thanks to its social network and, in In particular, in that of classified ads.
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Brussels highlighted that when they advertise their services on Facebook, companies, which also compete directly with the internet giant, can provide valuable business data.
Facebook can then use them to compete against the companies that provided them, he said, which applies in particular to providers of online classifieds, platforms on which many European consumers buy and sell products.
These providers advertise their services on the Facebook social network and, at the same time, compete with Facebook’s own classified advertising service (Facebook Marketplace).
Following a preliminary investigation, the EC explained that it believes that Mark Zuckerberg’s company may “distort competition in online classified ad services” by using data obtained from competing vendors to boost its Marketplace. Thus, Facebook could, for example, receive precise information about user preferences through its own competitors’ advertisements, and use it to tailor ‘Facebook Marketplace’.
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Likewise, the EC will examine whether the way in which ‘Facebook Marketplace’ is integrated into the social network constitutes a way of linking that gives it an advantage when it comes to reaching consumers, and whether it excludes online classified ads from the competition. .
Facebook offers cooperation
For its part, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that are “always” developing new and better services to meet the ever-changing demand of people using Facebook. “
Thus, he affirmed that the shopping (Marketplace) and dating (Dating) sites “offer people more choices”, adding that “both products operate in a highly competitive environment with many large operators.”
“We will continue to cooperate fully with investigations to show that they are unfounded“, he concluded.
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The Commission indicated that it will carry out its investigation on a “priority” basis and recalled, in any case, that the opening of the dossier “does not prejudge its result.” For its part, the UK also launched its own investigation into Facebook’s use of data today, and the EC hopes to cooperate “closely” with UK authorities in the course of independent investigations.
The EC also indicated that there is no legal deadline to conclude an investigation antitrust and that its duration depends on factors such as the complexity of the case, the extent to which the companies concerned cooperate or the exercise of the right of defense.
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In 2017, the EC announced a fine of 110 million euros to Facebook for providing “incorrect or misleading” information during the investigation it opened in 2014 on the acquisition of the mobile messaging application WhatsApp by the social network.
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