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Spanish media file 550-million-euro lawsuit against Facebook owner Meta

Spanish media file 550-million-euro lawsuit against Facebook owner Meta

A group representing 83 media outlets claim the American tech giant has an unfair advantage in the advertising market due to obtaining people's data illegitimately

E. Martínez

Monday, 4 December 2023, 16:43

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A group representing 83 Spanish media outlets has filed a 550-million-euro lawsuit against Facebook owner Meta Platforms (META.O), citing unfair competition in the advertising market.

The group, Asociación de Medios de Información (AMI), claimed Meta has breached European data protection regulations for the past five years. The association also claimed that 100% of Meta's revenue from the sale of targeted advertising on its platforms across Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have been obtained illegitimately.

"Meta has repeatedly failed to comply with EU data protection legislation, ignoring the regulatory requirement that citizens must consent to the use of their data for the profiling of advertising," the AMI pointed out.

The complainants said Meta tracks users' data without their consent throughout their digital browsing, allowing the American company an unfair advantage in the market and able to tailor their advertisements based on information obtained illegitimately.

Reliable and responsible media

The association is calling on public and private sector advertisers to entrust their advertising campaigns in media that is "safe, reliable responsible, respectful of citizens' rights and committed to promoting the democratic quality of Spain". AMI president José Joly said Meta's alleged tactics are putting at risk the survival of Spanish media outlets and "jeopardising" the democratic quality of the country.

Global dispute

Spain's class action lawsuit comes after Canada led a fight against internet giants such as Meta and Google. Justin Trudeau's government launched a bid to stop these platforms from monopolising the management of internet advertising and using the information produced by the media to gain traffic and capture data from internet users.

Canada's Senate then passed a bill that obliged them to pay the media for including their content on their platforms and reached an agreement last week with Google to start compensating Canadian media for sharing or reusing their news. The internet giant will pay 75 million euros a year, an amount that will increase each year linked to inflation. However, with Meta there has not yet been an agreement.

In Europe, France kickstarted the dispute when in 2019 it decided to transpose a European directive to protect the media.

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