Monday, December 04, 2023
By
Web Desk

Facebook owner Meta sued for $600 million by Spanish media alliance — But why

The lawsuit alleges Meta engaged in unfair competition within the advertising market

By
Web Desk
A Meta logo is seen at the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France, June 14, 2023.—Reuters
A Meta logo is seen at the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France, June 14, 2023.—Reuters 

A consortium of 83 Spanish media outlets, represented by the AMI media association, has initiated a collective legal action against Meta Platforms, the owner of Facebook.

The lawsuit, amounting to €550 million ($600 million), alleges Meta engaged in unfair competition within the advertising market by systematically utilising personal data from its Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp platforms between 2018 and 2023.

The media group contends that Meta's extensive use of personal data provided an undue advantage in crafting and presenting personalised ads, constituting a breach of EU data protection regulations.

In a statement on Monday, the AMI media association highlighted Meta's "massive" and "systematic" exploitation of user data as the basis for their legal challenge.

The newspapers involved, including Prisa and Vocento, argue that most ads placed by Meta rely on personal data obtained without clear consent from users, thus violating the EU General Data Protection Regulation implemented in May 2018.

Nicolas Gonzalez Cuellar, the lawyer representing the newspapers, emphasised the potential for similar legal proceedings across the EU, citing the alleged violation of European regulations.

Meta has not yet responded to the legal action, and a source familiar with the matter mentioned that the company is yet to receive the legal documents.

This lawsuit represents another instance of traditional media organisations globally challenging tech giants to safeguard their interests. 

Notably, Spanish media previously succeeded in shutting down Alphabet's Google News service in 2014, leading to its reopening in 2022 under new legislation enabling media outlets to negotiate fees directly with the tech giant.

The ongoing legal battles underscore the broader struggle of media entities worldwide to ensure fair compensation from technology giants for the use and dissemination of their content.