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South African Watchdog Goes After Facebook For Abusing Its Dominance

 |  March 14, 2022

Meta’s Facebook and WhatsApp has been found to be anticompetitive by South Africa’s Competition Commission, which has referred the social giant to the Competition Tribunal “for prosecution… for abuse of dominance”. 

It could result in Meta, Facebook and WhatsApp being fined “10% of their collective turnover” in the country. The case refers to a South African messaging service called GovChat, a technology start-up which allows the country’s government to connects with citizens using the WhatsApp Business API.

“The commission found that the harm to the competitive process is also clear because the decision to off-board GovChat from the WhatsApp Business API and the exclusionary terms for access to the WhatsApp Business API, including restrictions on the use of data, limits innovation and the development of new products and services,” the Competition Commission said in a statement.

The WhatsApp Business API enables medium and large businesses (and government) to, among other things, message at scale, makes use of advanced automation, integrations with existing eCommerce, building chatbots and tracking metrics.

GovChat launched a platform in 2018 called the GovChat which enables the public to engage with all spheres of government – national, provincial, and local – to report a wide variety of issues such as pothole location and other service delivery requirements.

GovChat also enables government to disseminate critical information to the public en masse such as information related to Covid-19 system tracking, testing and vaccination. GovChat has also enabled the poor to apply on-line for social relief and distress grants. The GovChat has provided government with unprecedent insight into service delivery issues in real time and provides government with the ability to provide targeted solutions more efficiently.