The European Union is set to open a formal antitrust probe into Facebook as soon as within the next few days, according to a report.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-member bloc, will take aim at Facebook’s
alleged anticompetitive practices in the online classified advertising market, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing sources close to the matter.
If Facebook does come under a formal antitrust investigation in the EU, it will be the first time the social media giant has faced such scrutiny in the bloc.
Officials from the EU have already sent at least three rounds of questions to Facebook and its rivals over whether the group distorts the online classifieds business by promoting Facebook Marketplace services for free, the report said.
Marketplace was launched in 2016 and is the home of the tech giant’s online classifieds section, where users can buy and sell items from furniture to property without fees. The service has more than 1 billion monthly active users, while Facebook itself has 2.85 billion monthly active users.
In the U.K., Facebook is set to go up against a sweeping probe from the Competition and Markets Authority over how it allegedly uses data to undermine competition in online advertising, the report said.
A move from the EU against Facebook comes as fellow tech giants Apple
and Google, owned by Alphabet
face their own investigations or charges over competition concerns.
More broadly, Big Tech in Europe will fall under the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, presented by the European Commission in December 2020 and pending approval by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. These acts aim to hold tech platforms to a high standard over the content they host, and introduce new procompetition measures for online markets.
Facebook was approached for comment.