The European Union is to open a formal antitrust probe into Facebook, the Financial Times (FT) reported, citing three individuals familiar with the matter. According to the outlet, the bloc seeks to find out whether the social media giant has undermined rivals in classified advertising. The European Commission, the executive branch of the bloc, declined to comment on the matter, the FT writes.
The timing and scope of the investigation is being finalised, the three insiders told FT. The probe will reportedly centre on allegations against Facebook’s Marketplace feature. Introduced in 2016, the online market is estimated to be used by almost a billion users in 70 countries. However, the social media giant has been accused of using the data it collects from users to undermine its rivals in online advertising.
The European Union may also look into how Facebook collects and monetises data.
Experts say that if the bloc gives a green light to the probe, it will take years before a verdict is announced. The company could be fined up to 10 percent of its global turnover.
The probe into the social media giant is the latest in a string of investigations into Big Tech. The European Union has launched similar probes into Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Facebook is also facing a separate antitrust investigation in Britain and the United States, with critics accusing the company of resorting to illegal methods to buy out rivals and stifle competition.