The European Union and the United Kingdom have launched separate investigations into whether Facebook illegally abuses its market power related to advertising.
“The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether Facebook violated EU competition rules by using advertising data gathered in particular from advertisers in order to compete with them in markets where Facebook is active such as classified ads,” the EU announcement notes. “The formal investigation will also assess whether Facebook ties its online classified ads service ‘Facebook Marketplace’ to its social network, in breach of EU competition rules.”
“The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a probe into whether Facebook has gained an unfair advantage over competitors in providing services for online classified ads and online dating, through how it gathers and uses certain data,” the nearly identical UK complaint reads. “The CMA will look into whether Facebook has unfairly used the data gained from its advertising and single sign-on to benefit its own services, in particular Facebook Marketplace – where users and businesses can put up classified ads to sell items – and Facebook Dating – a dating profile service it launched in Europe in 2020.”
The two probes are independent but clearly linked, and both note that they are working with the other on their investigations.
For its part, Facebook notes that its Marketplace and Dating services “operate in a highly competitive environment with many large incumbents. We will continue to cooperate fully with the investigations to demonstrate that they are without merit.”
In a semi-related move, Germany’s competition regulator announced today that it investigating Google’s new News Showcase service, by which the search giant pays licensing fees to news media companies for content, to determine whether it imposes “unfair conditions” on the content creators.