Remember when the European Commission and the UK started investigating Meta on the suspicion it was helping itself to rivals’ data and using it to build its own products, including Facebook Marketplace?
On the UK competition regulator’s side at least, Meta has offered not to do this, but first needs to implement new technical systems and train up its staff.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said today [PDF] that Meta serves social media users on one side, and sells Digital Display Advertising (DDA) on social media to advertisers on the other. Among the CMA’s concerns were that Meta would use its DDA customers’ data for “purposes beyond the provision of DDA.”
In the EU, the case reached the stage of formal objections in December last year after the trading bloc said Zuckerberg’s business was “imposing unfair trading conditions on Facebook Marketplace’s competitors for its own benefit.”
The EU further alleged the antisocial network was pulling in a stash of “ads-related data derived from competitors,” claiming it could use that information to get the upper hand.
In its December Statement of Objections, the European Commission also noted that Facebook users automatically have access to Facebook Marketplace, whether or not they want to, claiming this gives Meta a “substantial distribution advantage that competitors cannot match.” It also accused Meta of collecting “vast troves of data on the activities of users of its social network and beyond, enabling it to target specific customer groups.”
Tim Lamb, Meta’s head of EMEA competition, told us in a prepared statement at the time: “The claims made by the European Commission are without foundation.”
Over in the UK, things have moved on a bit. Meta’s offer of binding commitments, outlined today, includes three main prongs:
Advertising revenue, as the CMA points out in the document, accounted for approximately 97 percent of Meta’s worldwide revenue in 2022.
We’ve asked Meta for comment on today’s consultation – the last step before the UK regulator accepts Meta’s concessions and drops the case.
Subject to the “consultation responses,” the CMA said it would probably accept the proposed commitments. So if you’re a stakeholder or a business rival, now is the time to object. You have until 1700 local time on June 26. ®