BRUSSELS – The European Union and the UK have launched antitrust investigations into Facebook’s use of advertising data in its classifieds business, investigations that could force it to change its business model in addition to heavy fines.
The European Commission and the UK Competition and Markets Authority are investigating whether Facebook is using data from advertisers to compete with them.
The opening of the first antitrust investigation by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on the world’s largest social network marks her latest fight with one of America’s tech giants.
Vestager has imposed more than 8 billion euros ($ 9.7 billion) in fines on Alphabet Google’s unit and is also investigating Amazon and Apple.
Vestager will zoom in on Facebook’s vast mine of data from the nearly 7 million businesses that advertise on Facebook.
“We will examine in detail whether this data gives Facebook an unfair competitive advantage, particularly in the online classifieds industry, where people buy and sell goods every day, and where Facebook also competes with businesses from outside. from which it collects data, ”she said.
“In today’s digital economy, data should not be used in a way that distorts competition,” Vestager said.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority has also announced its own investigation to determine whether the network is abusing its dominant position in social media or digital advertising by collecting and using data.
Facebook said it would cooperate fully with the EU and UK investigations “to demonstrate that they are without merit.”
He said his “market and its encounters give people more choice, both products operate in a highly competitive environment with many large incumbents.”