A PYMNTS Company

Meta Accused of Antitrust Breach by EU Regulators Over Ad-Supported Services

 |  July 1, 2024
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has come under scrutiny by European Union (EU) regulators for allegedly failing to comply with the bloc’s antitrust rules regarding its ad-supported social networking services. The European Commission, acting as the EU’s competition enforcer, has accused Meta of breaching the Digital Markets Act (DMA), according to a report by CNBC.

In November last year, Meta introduced a subscription service for Facebook and Instagram in Europe, offering users a choice between a free, ad-supported experience and a paid, ad-free version. The company stated that users who consent to data tracking would receive the free service funded by advertising revenues, while those opting out could pay for an ad-free experience.

However, the European Commission contends that this binary choice violates the DMA, which aims to curb the dominance of Big Tech companies. The Commission’s preliminary findings suggest that Meta’s model forces users to consent to the combination of their personal data and does not provide an equivalent, less personalized alternative for users.

Related: Meta & OpenAI CEOs Back EU AI Regulations

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager emphasized the importance of giving citizens control over their data. “We want to empower citizens to be able to take control over their own data and choose a less personalized ads experience,” Vestager said in a statement.

Meta has defended its subscription model, claiming it complies with a recent ruling from Europe’s top court. “Subscription for no ads follows the direction of the highest court in Europe and complies with the DMA. We look forward to further constructive dialogue with the European Commission to bring this investigation to a close,” a Meta spokesperson stated.

If found guilty of breaching the DMA, Meta could face a fine of up to 10% of its global annual turnover. The Commission has until March next year to conclude its investigation.

Privacy activists and watchdogs have also expressed concerns over Meta’s advertising model. This charge against Meta follows a similar action against Apple, which was accused of non-compliance with the DMA a week earlier.

Reuters was the first to report the EU competition enforcer’s charges against Meta under the Digital Markets Act.

Source: CNBC