EU, UK PROBE FACEBOOK OVER UNFAIR COMPETITION VS RIVALS
Updated: Jun 6, 2021
European Union and British regulators opened dual antitrust investigations Friday, into whether Facebook distorts competition in the classified advertising market by using data to compete unfairly against rival services, Kelvin Chan reported for the Associated Press (AP).
The coordinated effort represents an escalation by European regulators in their battle to rein in the dominance of big tech companies. The focus of the investigations highlights a longstanding concern that the data they collect from people or businesses using their platforms is used to get an advantage over competitors, which could include those same businesses.
The EU’s executive commission, the bloc’s top antitrust enforcer, is looking at the possibility that Facebook collects data on what users are interested in based on how rival classified ad providers are advertising their sites to Facebook users. The commission is worried Facebook then uses that data to tailor Marketplace to outcompete the rival sites.
“Facebook collects vast troves of data on the activities of users of its social network and beyond, enabling it to target specific customer groups,” said Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice president in charge of competition policy.
“We will look in detail at whether this data gives Facebook an undue competitive advantage, in particular on the online classified ads sector, where people buy and sell goods every day, and where Facebook also competes with companies from which it collects data.”
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said in a simultaneous announcement that it launched its own probe to examine whether Facebook’s collection and use of data gave it an unfair advantage over competitors providing classified data and online dating services. Facebook said it “will continue to cooperate fully with the investigations to demonstrate that they are without merit.”
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