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Meta, new accusation by the Commission: advertising and Facebook Marketplace in the crosshairs

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Meta , the giant that controls the social networks Facebook and Instagram, risks again being sanctioned by the European Union. The Commission is targeting the company’s advertising business and Facebook Marketplace , the market for users: the accusation is that it has abused its dominant position in the market, creating prejudice to free competition.

 

The accusations are contained in the preliminary opinion drawn up by the Commission, but the procedure that will lead to a possible sanction is still long and Meta, which contests the foundation of the accusations, will have the right to be heard. About a year and a half has passed since the Commission and the UK CMA announced two separate investigations (but with mutual exchange of information) on the hypothesis that Meta’s abuse of a dominant position was with serious distortive effects on the market for online advertisements. In this case, the thesis is that Meta uses the data extrapolated from Facebook to obtain an undue advantage over its competitors.

The CMA, which is the antitrust authority of the United Kingdom, the same one that has also targeted the Microsoft-Activision agreement, had already confirmed its intentions to continue its action against Meta in August. Four months later, the European Union has announced its intention to do the same.

The Commission accuses Meta of having violated article 102 of the TFEU , one of the two pillars of EU law together with the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, as well as the one which provides for the measures against monopolies and oligopolies, as well as aid of unlawful state. It would be the interdependent relationship between Facebook and Facebook Markeplace to constitute an undue advantage for Meta that “competitors cannot match”.

 

Then the Commission disputes the terms and conditions – unilateral and not subject to negotiation – imposed by Meta on companies that provide competing advertising service platforms and on the users themselves. Terms and conditions that force the companies in question to share with Facebook an amount of data that the European institution defines as “unjustified and completely disproportionate to the purposes of the contract”. In short, data that would obviously be shared with Facebook Marketplace, providing the platform for private trading with all the tools to steal ground and market shares from the competition.

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Furthermore, the Commission also underlines how all Facebook users – regardless of their consent – are automatically registered (and therefore subjected to ads) also on the Marketplace. Being able to count on a user base made up of billions of people all over the world, Meta would in this way have a distribution advantage that rivals (such as eBay or Vinted ) will never be able to match.

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