U.K. and European Union regulators have launched official investigations into whether Facebook is engaging in practices that give its Marketplace classified ads platform and dating service unfair competitive advantage.
The U.K.’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) is probing whether Facebook is unfairly using advertising data and its single-sign-on login option to benefit the platforms, while The European Commission is examining whether Facebook is using advertisers’ data to compete against them for classified ads, and whether the link between the Facebook social network and Marketplace violates EU competition regulations.
“Facebook is used by almost 3 billion people on a monthly basis and almost 7 million firms advertise on Facebook in total,” European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. “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. In today’s digital economy, data should not be used in ways that distort competition.”
Facebook issued a statement in response: “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.”