EU Regulators Target Facebook
Facebook Marketplace Under Investigation
Antitrust regulators from the European Union and the UK are investigating Facebook (FB) Marketplace. The regulators are looking into allegations that Facebook uses data it amasses from advertisers to help its Marketplace classified ads service. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is also looking into whether Facebook uses advertiser data to give its online-dating service an illegal advantage. The European Commission and the UK Competition and Markets Authority are coordinating their efforts.
Facebook said it intends to cooperate fully with the regulators as a way to demonstrate that the charges are without merit. The company noted its Marketplace and dating services are in highly competitive markets with many large players.
Things Just Got Formal
The move by the European regulators is a key step in what has been a long and informal inquiry into one of the world’s largest social media companies. If either regulator finds evidence that backs up the claims, they can file formal charges against Facebook. They can also choose to drop the case entirely.
Friday’s action focuses on how Facebook interacts with the data it collects from advertisers and whether the company is using the data to gain unfair advantages over competitors.
European Regulators Step up Scrutiny
Google (GOOGL) also faced increased scrutiny on Friday from Germany’s competition regulator. The watchdog announced it opened an inquiry into Google’s news showcase in which the search giant pays to license content from publishers. The German regulator will look into allegations that Google imposes unfair conditions on publishers. Regulators are also investigating Google’s process in selecting news outlets for the service. Last month the European Commission charged Apple (AAPL) with distributing music streaming apps in an unfair way.
All these actions are part of European anticompetitive regulators’ increased scrutiny of some large technology companies. It will be interesting to watch how the legal battles play out and if more charges are coming.
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