EU, UK hit Facebook with new antitrust probes

EU, UK hit Facebook with new antitrust probes
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The European Union and the United Kingdom on Friday hit Facebook with new antitrust probes over the platform’s use of data from advertisers.

The European Commission said in a statement that it was looking into whether Facebook violated competition rules by using data gathered from advertisers to compete with them in markets where Facebook is active — particularly classified ads.

The investigation is also probing whether the platform ties its “Facebook Marketplace” service to its social network in violation of EU competition rules.

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Separately, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it will probe whether Facebook has gained an unfair advantage over competitors in services for online classified ads and online dating through how it gathers and uses data from digital advertising services. 

Specifically, the CMA said it will probe whether Facebook unfairly used data gained from its single sign-on option Facebook Login to benefit Facebook Marketplace and its online dating platform Facebook Dating.

CMA said it will “seek to work closely” with the European Commission as the separate investigations develop.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said in a statement, “Any such advantage can make it harder for competing firms to succeed, including new and smaller businesses, and may reduce customer choice.”

“We will be working closely with the European Commission as we each investigate these issues, as well as continuing our coordination with other agencies to tackle these global issues,” Coscelli said.

In a statement to The Hill, a Facebook spokesperson said, "We are always developing new and better services to meet evolving demand from people who use Facebook."

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"Marketplace and Dating offer people more choices and both products operate in a highly competitive environment with many large incumbents. We will continue to cooperate fully with the investigations to demonstrate that they are without merit," the spokesperson said.

CNBC reported that the commission has also launched probes into Amazon and Google in recent years. The CMA has also investigated Google and Apple.

— Updated at 10:35 a.m.