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Meta faces $11.8B fine in the EU for breaching antitrust rules

Meta – fines – breaching antitrust – we have heard it all before, but this time it’s almost $12 billion dollars due in the EU.

Dollar bills representing recession

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta just can’t seem to catch a break, instead teetering on the edge of catching a multibillion-dollar antitrust lawsuit courtesy of the European Union.

According to the European Commission, as reported by CNBC, Meta may be in breach of European Union antitrust laws due to its conflation of Facebook Marketplace and the rest of the social media network. The EC maintains that this combination of factors affords Marketplace a “substantial distribution advantage” with which other online marketplaces simply can’t compete.

In regular English, Facebook’s use of an integrated marketplace on a relatively ubiquitous social media platform makes the service uniquely qualified to distribute goods in a manner and with a reach that is simply impossible to match by even the most well-connected of merchants or services.

Margrethe Vestager, vice president of the European Commission, has strong concerns that Facebook’s lack of separation between facets leaves users “no choice but to have access to Facebook Marketplace.”

“…We are [also] concerned that Meta imposed unfair trading conditions, allowing it to use data [sic] on competing online classified ad services,” said Vestager, making it clear that the issue here is Facebook and its monolithic social media status rather than the marketplace as an isolated item.

Unfortunately, the two are inextricably linked, and therein lies the problem – a problem that could potentially cost Meta up to $11.8 billion if the European Commission finds sufficient evidence that an antitrust breach has occurred. This number is representative of 10 percent of Meta’s annual income worldwide, which is the standard antitrust penalty imposed by the EC.

Worth noting is the fact that this is but the first step in an investigatory staircase; Meta is still able to offer a defense that, if accepted by the EC, will close the probe.

For their part, Meta has suffered a string of losses in 2022, chief among which is a sharp nosedive in stock prices following some questionable choices vis-a-vis technology investment. Zuckerberg himself recently admitted that Meta is not the company’s chief earner, instead offering a solution in the form of pivoting to monetization of WhatsApp; the company also issued a company-wide series of layoffs resulting in the firing of over 11,000 people.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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