A coalition of 83 Spanish media outlets, united under the AMI media association, has filed a €550 million ($600 million) lawsuit against Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook. The lawsuit, lodged in a commercial court on Friday, accuses Meta of engaging in unfair competition within the advertising market and violating EU data protection rules spanning the period from 2018 to 2023.
The AMI media association, representing prominent entities such as Prisa, the publisher of Spain’s leading newspaper El Pais, and Vocento, owner of ABC, asserts that Meta Platforms has gained an unjust advantage by the “massive” and “systematic” use of personal data derived from users across its platforms—Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. This, they claim, allows Meta to tailor and present personalized advertisements, constituting unfair competition in the advertising sector.
The core argument revolves around the alleged violation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018. According to the media coalition, Meta’s practices involve the placement of ads that utilize personal data without explicit consent from users, contravening the GDPR, which mandates explicit authorization for the collection and use of personal data by websites.
Meta Platforms, owner of the social media behemoth Facebook, has yet to officially respond to the lawsuit. A source within Meta, familiar with the situation, stated that the company had not received the legal documents at the time of inquiry.
Nicolas Gonzalez Cuellar, a lawyer representing the coalition of newspapers, emphasized the potential for similar legal actions in other EU countries, given the nature of the alleged violation of European regulations. He told Reuters, “Of course, in any other EU country, the same legal proceeding could be initiated.”
This lawsuit adds to the ongoing global trend where traditional media organizations are turning to legal avenues to challenge technology giants, seeking equitable compensation for the use and dissemination of their content. As battles between legacy media and tech titans continue in courts and legislative arenas worldwide, the outcome of this case against Meta Platforms may have far-reaching implications for the evolving landscape of media and technology collaborations.