The European Commission has just confirmed that it has opened an antitrust investigation into Facebook. The institution wants to check whether Mark Zuckerberg’s company has violated EU competition rules by using data obtained by advertisers to compete with them in, for example, classified ads.
An important part of the investigation, according to the Commission’s statement, will be focused on whether there is a relationship between Facebook Marketplace classified ads and the social network itself.
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, as well as scourge of big tech, has mentioned that “Facebook collects huge amounts of data on the activities of users of its social network and others, allowing it to target specific groups of customers.”
“We will analyze in detail whether this data gives Facebook an undue competitive advantage, in particular in the online classified ads sector, where people buy and sell goods every day, and where Facebook also competes with the companies from which it collects data,” the commissioner concluded.
Eight open cases that the European Commission and Vestager have against technology companies for abusive practices.
The statement sums up the problematic nature of the matter very well: “By advertising their services on Facebook, companies, which also compete directly with Facebook, may provide it with commercially valuable data. Facebook could then use this data to compete with the companies that provided it.”
It’s a similar situation to the investigations into Amazon for using data from successful product sales to decide to make clones under the Amazon Basics brand. With them, Amazon is in competition with the brands they sell in their store.
Not only is the European Commission investigating these facts, but the British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), with the United Kingdom already out of the Union due to Brexit, is also doing so. The European Commission has stated that they will be working closely.