European Union and UK Open Antitrust Probe Into Google and Meta Over Online Ads

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Google, Facebook - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.03.2022
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Both companies are already under investigation by US authorities for violating antitrust regulations. The latest probe will add to a long list of challenges faced by US tech companies, which have previously been accused of breaching customer privacy.
The European Union and the United Kingdom have opened an antitrust probe into Google and Meta (formerly known as Facebook) over online ads. The investigation in question is looking into a 2018 deal between the two tech giants, which reportedly gave them preferential treatment on the market for online ads with smaller companies suffering as a result.

"We're concerned that Google may have teamed up with Meta to put obstacles in the way of competitors who provide important online display advertising services to publishers. If one company has a stranglehold over a certain area, it can make it hard for start-ups and smaller businesses to break into the market – and may ultimately reduce customer choice", said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the UK's Competition Market Authority.

She was echoed by Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition chief, who said the agreement known as "Jedi Blue" is a "giant problem".

Both companies have denied they violated antitrust laws, but at the same time said that they would cooperate with regulators. Google said the allegations made about the Jedi Blue agreement are "false".

"The goal of this programme is to work with a range of ad networks and exchanges to increase demand for publishers' ad space, which helps those publishers earn more revenue", the company said in a statement.

For its part, Meta said that the deal in fact has helped increase competition for ad placements.

If found guilty both companies could face fines of up to 10 percent of their global turnover, but the legal proceedings may take years before any verdict is announced. Aside from antitrust violation, the probe will also look at whether Google abuses its dominance to stifle its rivals.

The investigation will add to the long list of challenges the tech companies are facing. Both Meta and Google have been previously accused of spying on their customers and selling their personal data.
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