Facebook Faces Antitrust Investigation in EU, U.K

The United Kingdom and European Union opened formal antitrust investigations into Facebook’s classified-ads service, Marketplace. 

Both the European Commission and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority said Friday they are investigating whether Facebook revamps data gathered from advertisers who buy ads in order to give illegal advantages to its own services, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The cases look specifically at how Facebook uses the data it collects, and whether that would put the company at an advantage in the promotion of its own services in neighboring markets. 

The U.K. is also investigating whether Facebook uses advertiser data to give similar advantages to its online-dating service. 

“In today’s digital economy, data should not be used in ways that distort competition,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief. 

A Facebook spokesman said its services will “continue to cooperate fully with the investigations to demonstrate that they are without merit.” 

Though the EU has been informally investigating the Big Tech giant for some time, if the Commission or the U.K.’s CMA finds evidence of any wrongdoing, they can then file formal charges. 

The new cases are part of a new series of antitrust enforcements throughout Europe. The European Commission filed formal charges against Apple last month for abusing its control over the distribution of music-streaming apps, including Spotify. In November, the EU also filed formal charges against Amazon for using nonpublic data gathered from third-party sellers to unfairly compete against them. 

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