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UK competition watchdog starts probe into Facebook’s use of advertising data

·2-min read
<p>The CMA is investigating Facebook’s use of ad data</p> (AP)

The CMA is investigating Facebook’s use of ad data

(AP)

The UK’s competition regulator has launched a fresh investigation into Facebook over concerns that the tech giant might be abusing a dominant position in digital advertising.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will look into how the social network gathers and uses certain data and whether it may provide an unfair advantage over rivals in the online classified ads and online dating space.

As well as Facebook’s advertising services, Facebook Login, a feature that allows people to sign into other websites and apps, will also form part of the probe.

The regulator said it will assess whether data from both offerings enable the firm to benefit Facebook Marketplace, a part of the platform where users can place classified ads, and Facebook Dating.

The announcement comes as the European Commission (EC) launched its own investigation into the company’s use of data.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “We intend to thoroughly investigate Facebook’s use of data to assess whether its business practices are giving it an unfair advantage in the online dating and classified ad sectors.

“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.”

A Facebook spokesman said: “We are always developing new and better services to meet evolving demand from people who use Facebook. Marketplace and Dating offer people more choices and both products operate in a highly competitive environment with many large incumbents. We will continue to co-operate fully with the investigations to demonstrate they are without merit.”

This is the third investigation into a suspected breach of competition law the CMA has opened in digital markets. It is also investigating Google’s “privacy sandbox” and Apple’s AppStore.

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