BRUSSELS, Dec 19 (Reuters) – The European Commission on Monday said it has warned Facebook parent company Meta (META.O) that it is breaching EU antitrust laws by distorting competition in markets for online classified advertising and abusing its dominant position.
The Commission said in a preliminary view that it would further investigate and that it could impose a fine of up to 10% of the company’s annual global turnover, if there is sufficient evidence of an infringement of European Union rules.
European Union’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement that she is concerned that Meta ties its dominant social network Facebook to its online classified ad services, which is called Facebook Marketplace.
“This means Facebook users have no choice but to have access to Facebook Marketplace,” she said.
Meta denied its business practices were anti-competitive.
“The claims made by the European Commission are without foundation,” Meta spokesperson Tim Lamb said in a statement.
“We will continue to work with regulatory authorities to demonstrate that our product innovation is pro-consumer and pro-competitive,” Lamb added.
The Commission said that besides tying its online classified ads service to its social network, Meta was also abusing its dominant position by unilaterally imposing unfair trading conditions on competing online classified ads services which advertise on Facebook or Instagram.
It said it was concerned the terms and conditions – which authorise Meta 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.
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