Regulators have opened an investigation into Facebook amid concerns it is using its vast troves of personal data to push its own shopping and data tools.
The probe by the UK’s competition regulator will examine whether it is abusing its dominant position in online advertising.
It comes amid growing antitrust concerns about the way many technology companies – not just Facebook but others such as Apple – have been able to use their vast size and hold on the market to unfairly benefit themselves.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will look into how the social network gathers and uses certain data and whether it may provide an unfair advantage over rivals in the online classified ads and online dating space.
As well as Facebook‘s advertising services, Facebook Login, a feature that allows people to sign into other websites and apps, will also form part of the probe.
The regulator said it will assess whether data from both offerings enable the firm to benefit Facebook Marketplace, a part of the platform where users can place classified ads, and Facebook Dating.
The announcement comes as the European Commission (EC) launched its own investigation into the company’s use of data.
“We intend to thoroughly investigate Facebook‘s use of data to assess whether its business practices are giving it an unfair advantage in the online dating and classified ad sectors,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.
“Any such advantage can make it harder for competing firms to succeed, including new and smaller businesses, and may reduce customer choice.
“We will be working closely with the European Commission as we each investigate these issues, as well as continuing our coordination with other agencies to tackle these global issues.”
Facebook responded saying that it will cooperate fully with the investigations to “demonstrate that they are without merit”.
“We are always developing new and better services to meet evolving demand from people who use Facebook,” a spokesperson said.
“Marketplace and Dating offer people more choices and both products operate in a highly competitive environment with many large incumbents.”