Calls For Facebook Investigation Unlikely To Lead To UK Action

The news is not looking good for Facebook. I think the term financiers use is "contagion," where an issue in one country soon spreads to another.

Well, there is no better word for the social media giant -- which found out, just before last week was over, that Damian Collins, chair of the Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, was feeling more than a little peeved. He is not only a big shot for heading up this very influential committee, but he is also the guy who led last year's investigation into fake news and its implications.

He has gone as far as to suggest that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) need to look at the way Facebook reported on video metrics. The thorny issue had already led to a group of US advertisers suing the social giant for fraud. 

Nobody could have missed last week's embarrassing headline saying that the advertisers felt they had to act when it was revealed that Facebook had allegedly inflated video viewing figures by 900%. That didn't fall on deaf ears in the corridors of power in London, and now one of the most influential politicians in the digital arena is calling for an investigation. 

Damian Collins is also calling out Facebook on its claims that only 3% to 4% of accounts are fake. The fact that the service recently culled a million accounts means, he suggests, that the problem is worse than the tech giant has ever dared to admit. 

The CMA is not going public on whether it intends to initiate an investigation, but The Telegraph reminds readers that it has already gone on the record to hint it was considering working with the broadcasting regulator Ofcom on a possible probe into social media and digital advertising practices. 

Once again, we have a regulator within the EU considering a probe into a tech giant. Some hard-nosed businessmen might not have agreed with the EU's fines against Google for promoting its own services and pushing its apps too hard onto Android manufacturers.

However, it's hard to see how anyone can argue with the need for an investigation into the hot new topic in advertising. We're talking social, video -- and more than likely, mobile here. That's every buzzword and all three of the huge growth areas in digital marketing. 

I'm not so sure this is a big enough issue for the European Commission to call another multi-year investigation, as they did with the far bigger stories of Google on search and Android, and Apple on back taxes. 

I'm also not too sure the UK Government would want to alienate Facebook at exactly the time it wants to show the country as a great location for tech giants to remain headquartered and keep on employing lot of talented people. 

So the headlines are highly embarrassing for Facebook, and this is a clear case of contagion. However, it would be a surprise for this to turn into a real investigation with teeth. 

I think Facebook's biggest fear is that a group of advertisers will get together in the UK or EU and launch a mirror case of the one being brought in the US.

It is scorned advertisers that have been conned out of budget who are Facebook's biggest fear, not a government that wants to talk tough but then secretly woo the tech giants. 

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