Google and Meta face EU investigation over possible antitrust violation

BRUSSELS – The European Union has threatened to crack down on a deal between Google and Facebook parent company Meta for online display advertising services, saying Friday the deal could breach the bloc’s fair competition rules.

The EU’s competition watchdog has opened an investigation into a 2018 pact involving Meta’s “Audience Network” participation in Google’s “Open Bidding” program.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said the deal could be part of an effort to exclude ad-tech services that compete with Google’s Open Bidding program, which would hurt publishers and consumers. .

“If confirmed by our investigation, it would restrict and distort competition in the already concentrated ad tech market to the detriment of competing ad serving tech, publishers and ultimately consumers,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement on Friday.

The UK has launched its own investigation into the deal between Google and Meta.

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The European Commission said it was in contact with the UK competition authority and “intends to cooperate closely with this investigation in accordance with applicable rules and procedures”.

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