Google and Facebook, Under Investigation for Abusing Market Power


The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is investigating digital advertising and online platforms for abusive practices, focusing on Facebook and Google in particular.

In March, a study in Europe resulted in Google being hit with a $1.7 billion fine because of “abusive” online ad practices. Apparently, Google was exploiting its supremacy by restricting its rivals from placing their search ads on third-party websites. The EU also fined the giant $5 billion for antitrust practices on its OS Android, just last year.

“Two suppliers in particular, Google and Facebook (PDF) (and their respective subsidiaries, such as YouTube and Instagram) hold leading positions in the market for online advertising in the UK, with the majority of digital advertising revenue in the UK split between these two businesses,” the study’s statement of scope (PDF) says. “Digital advertising comprises the substantial majority of the revenues of both of these companies.”

The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) market study will handle three important areas of potential harm to consumers: how much market power online platforms have; whether consumers are able to control how their data is being used; finally, if digital advertising market competition could be “distorted” by some players with power.

Groups including advertisers, publishers, ad tech companies or online platforms are free to address the CMA until July 30. Afterwards, a decision whether to make a market investigation reference will have to be taken by Jan. 2, 2020.

For now, there’s no response to requests from Facebook and Google.

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