Meta plans to impose restrictions of advertising to enhance the performance of Facebook Marketplace.

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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has provided significant assurances to antitrust regulators in the UK in an effort to address concerns regarding its utilization of advertising data for the advantage of its own products.

Central to this particular matter is Meta’s ability to utilize data from its primary social network to make determinations regarding content display and recommendations in Facebook Marketplace. Facebook Marketplace, an online classifieds platform introduced in 2016, enables users to engage in buying and selling various items. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) contends that Meta’s access to user interest insights acquired from their ad interactions on Facebook gives it an unjust advantage, as it can present more relevant items in users’ Marketplace feeds. This, in turn, negatively impacts advertisers in other areas of the platform.

In June 2021, the European Commission (EC) and the CMA jointly initiated separate investigations into Meta’s practices. In August, the CMA announced its formal investigation, followed by the EC four months later. However, the CMA has recently hinted at its willingness to drop the case after receiving specific commitments from Meta.

These commitments include granting advertisers the option to opt-out of utilizing their advertising data for the advancement of Facebook Marketplace. Meta has stated that it will implement “new technical systems” to facilitate this opt-out process. Additionally, Meta has pledged to provide training to its staff to ensure that advertiser data is not utilized in the development of new products for the UK market that could potentially compete directly with advertisers.

Although the CMA has not explicitly confirmed its approval of these commitments, it has indicated the general agreement and stated that if they are ultimately approved, a monitoring trustee will be appointed to ensure Meta’s compliance with the commitments.

In a report released yesterday, Michael Grenfell, the Director of Enforcement at the CMA, stated, “Reducing the risk of Meta unfairly exploiting the data of businesses who advertise on its platform for its own competitive advantage could help many UK businesses who advertise there. We are currently seeking feedback on these commitments, which we believe, at this stage, will effectively address our concerns.”

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