EU Hits Meta with Antitrust Complaint Over Marketplace Service

The European Commission (EC) has issued a formal complaint on Monday accusing Facebook’s parent company Meta of breaching antitrust rules, announcing that the complaint could lead to fines.

The commission alleges in its complaint – compiled following an investigation launched last year – that by tying Facebook Marketplace to its own social network, the US tech giant was squeezing out classified ad rivals.

As Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s antitrust commissioner noted, Meta reaches billions of monthly users and millions of active advertisers globally with its Facebook social network with Facebook users, as the EU watchdog suggested, automatically having access to Marketplace whether they want it or not.

The commission also alleges that Mark Zuckerberg’s company implemented unjustified and disproportionate terms of service that authorize it to use competitors-generated ad-related data to benefit Marketplace.

That process involved unilaterally imposed unfair trading terms on its online classified ad rivals which advertise their services on Instagram or on Facebook.

Denying the allegations, Meta’s head of EMEA competition, Tim Lamb, said that the accusations the commission has made are without merit, vowing at the same time that the company will continue to work with regulatory authorities to demonstrate that its product innovation is pro-consumer and pro-competitive.

Lamb also added that Meta will examine the complaints and is fully cooperating with the EC investigation.

Suspecting that Facebook is collecting troves of data on its users’ activities that enabled it to target specific customer groups, the European Union opened last year an investigation into Meta’s classifieds business.

If those suspicions are confirmed, the tech giant’s practices would be in breach of EU rules aimed at preventing abuse of a dominant market position, which means that the company can be hit with fines worth up to 10% of their annual global revenue in line with the EU antitrust rules.

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