UK/EUROPE – The European Commission and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have both opened investigations into Facebook’s use of advertising data.
The CMA investigation will examine 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 European Commission investigation will focus on whether Facebook violated EU competition rules by using advertising data to help Facebook compete with other advertisers in markets in which the social media firm is active, such as classified adverts.
The commission will also assess whether Facebook’s classified ads service Facebook Marketplace is connected to its social network, in breach of EU competition rules.
Both the European Commission and the CMA will work closely together on their separate investigations into Facebook.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “We intend to thoroughly investigate Facebook’s use of data to assess whether its business practices are giving it an unfair advantage in the online dating and classified ad sectors.
“Any such advantage can make it harder for competing firms to succeed, including new and smaller businesses, and may reduce customer choice.”
Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president in charge of competition policy at the European Commission, said: “Facebook collects vast troves of data on the activities of users of its social network and beyond, enabling it to target specific customer groups.
“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.”
A Facebook company spokesperson said: “We are always developing new and better services to meet evolving demand from people who use Facebook.
“Marketplace and Dating offer people more choices and both products 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.”