To prevent new antitrust issues in the UK, Meta will restrict the use of advertising data to promote Facebook Marketplace.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has given key assurances to UK competition authorities in an attempt to allay concerns about how it uses advertising data to benefit its own products.

The news comes the same week that Meta revealed it was selling GIF platform Giphy for $53 million, three years after it bought it for $400 million after the final sell order issued by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last October. of the year. The CMA also recently blocked Microsoft’s $68.7 billion bid to acquire Activision.

At the heart of this particular issue is how Meta can use data from its main social network to make decisions about how to display content and recommendations on Facebook Marketplace, an online classifieds service launched back in 2016 that allows Facebook users to buy and sell anything. . . Given that Meta can obtain information about users’ interests through their interaction with Facebook online ads, the CMA argues that this gives Meta an unfair advantage by allowing them to display more relevant items in their users’ Marketplace feed at the expense of advertisers elsewhere. Platform.

The European Commission (EC) and the CMA announced a separate but joint effort to investigate this Meta practice in June 2021, with the CMA identifying back in august that it is conducting a formal investigation. The EU followed suit four months later.

Now, however, the CMA has signaled for the first time that it is ready to close the case after receiving specific commitments from Meta.

These include allowing advertisers to opt-out of using their advertising data to develop the Facebook Marketplace, which Meta says will be done through the implementation of “new technical systems.” On top of this, Meta has said it will train staff not to use advertiser data when developing new products for use in the UK market that may compete with advertisers.

“Risk reduction”

While the CMA has not yet explicitly made these commitments, it has more or less stated that it will, and that if it does eventually get the green light, a trustee will be appointed to make sure Meta sticks to its commitments.

“Reducing the risk that companies that advertise on their platform misuse Meta for their own competitive advantage could help many UK companies that advertise there,” said CMA Director of Enforcement Michael Grenfell. written in a report published today. “We are now consulting on these commitments, which we believe will solve our problems at this stage.”

This latest announcement marked the beginning of a month-long consultation period that will end on 26 June. If his preliminary findings stand, it will effectively end the investigation.

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