Facebook Targeted In Two European Data Investigations

Facebook regulation

Facebook is the subject of two new investigations in Europe by the European Commission and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, both regarding the social media giant’s use of data.

The European Commission (EC) announced its antitrust investigation Friday (June 4), saying it would look into whether Facebook violated EU competition rules “by using advertising data gathered in particular from advertisers in order to compete with them in markets where Facebook is active such as classified ads.”

The investigation will also try to determine whether Facebook ties Facebook Marketplace — its classified ad service — to its social network, in violation of EU competition regulations.

“Facebook collects vast troves of data on the activities of users of its social network and beyond, enabling it to target specific customer groups,” said EC Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager.

“We will look in detail at 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 companies from which it collects data,” Vestager said. “In today’s digital economy, data should not be used in ways that distort competition.”   

Also on Friday, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said its probe will look into whether Facebook’s data gathering and use practices have given it an unfair edge in the online classified and data sectors.

Facebook collects data from its digital ad services, which allow other businesses to advertise to Facebook users as well as from its single sign-in option, which lets people access other apps and websites with their Facebook membership. The CMA says it wants to see if Facebook has unfairly used this data to benefit its own services, such as Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Dating, which launched in Europe last year.

Facebook is already the target of antitrust litigation in the U.S., with 46 states and the Federal Trade Commission filing claims against the company last year. Facebook has moved to have these cases dismissed, calling the charges baseless.