Brussels investigates Facebook for possible "anti-competitive conduct" with the data of its users

It analyzes whether the company violated EU competition rules by using the data it collects, particularly from advertisers, to compete with them in markets such as classified ads.

Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley (USA).

The European Commission announced this Friday the opening of a formal investigation into Facebook for “possible anti-competitive conduct” to find out whether the company “violated EU competition rules by using the data it collects, particularly from advertisers, to compete with them in markets where Facebook is active, such as classified ads. The formal investigation will also assess, Brussels explains, whether the digital giant “links its online classifieds service, Facebook Marketplace, with your social network, in violation of the EU competition rules.

“Nearly 3 billion people use Facebook each month and nearly seven million businesses advertise on it. Facebook collects vast amounts of data about the activities of its social network users and beyond, allowing it to target customer groups. We will analyze in detail whether this data gives Facebook an undue competitive advantage, particularly in the online classified ads, where people buy and sell products every day and where Facebook also competes with the companies it collects data from. In today’s digital economy, data should not be used in a way that distorts competition “, explained the executive vice president, Margrethe Vestager, Head of Competition.

By advertising their services on Facebook, companies that compete directly with Facebook contribute commercially valuable data. The Commission believes that Facebook could use this data to impose itself on the market. Following a preliminary investigation, the Commission is concerned that Facebook “may distort competition from online classified ad services”. In particular, “Facebook may make use of data obtained from competing providers in the context of its advertising on the Facebook social network, to help Facebook Marketplace to overcome them. Facebook may, for example, receive precise information about the preferences of the users from the advertising activities of their competitors and use that data to adapt Facebook Marketplace, “says the statement issued this Friday.

Case very similar to the one that has been opened against other large multinationals, such as Google Amazon, which are at the same time a platform for exchanges and active agents in that market, which has aroused the same suspicions.

The in-depth investigation does not have a fixed timeframe, but Vestager will give “priority” to the matter, remembering that an investigation does not prejudge any results. Just today, the British regulatory authority has launched its own investigation into how the social network and advertising giant uses data. And the Commission hopes to “work closely” with its British colleagues.

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