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: EU accuses Meta Platforms of breaching antitrust rules over online classified ads

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The European Union has accused Meta Platforms, Inc. of breaching antitrust rules by allegedly distorting competition in the markets for online classified ads.

In preliminary findings published on Monday, the bloc’s Commission said it “takes issue with Meta
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tying its online classified ads service, Facebook Marketplace, to its personal social network, Facebook.

“The Commission is also concerned that Meta is imposing unfair trading conditions” on Facebook Marketplace’s competitors for its own benefit,” according to the statement. The EU said it believed that Meta “abused its dominant position in two ways.”

First, Meta tying Facebook Marketplace with its dominant personal social network Facebook means “that users of Facebook automatically have access to Facebook Marketplace, whether they want it or not,” said the EU.

It also noted concern that competitors of Facebook’s Marketplace could not match its substantial distribution advantage. “Second, Meta unilaterally imposes unfair trading conditions on competing online classified ads services which advertise on Facebook or Instagram,” the EU said.

The Commission voiced concern that the terms and conditions Meta applies authorizing it to use ads-related data derived from competitors for the benefit of Facebook Marketplace, “are unjustified, disproportionate and not necessary for the provision of online display advertising services on Meta’s platforms.”

Such conditions, said the EU, impose a burden on competitors and only benefit Facebook Marketplace.

“With its Facebook social network, Meta reaches globally billions of monthly users and millions of active advertisers. Our preliminary concern is that Meta ties its dominant social network Facebook to its online classified ad services called Facebook Marketplace,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president in charge of competition policy, in the statement.

“This means Facebook users have no choice but to have access to Facebook Marketplace. Furthermore, we are concerned that Meta imposed unfair trading conditions, allowing it to use of data on competing online classified ad services. If confirmed, Meta’s practices would be illegal under our competition rules,” she added.

Shares of Meta fell 1.5% in premarket trading.

A Meta spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

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