Spanish media groups sue Meta platforms for €550 million damages

Anne Freer | December 5, 2023

App Business

A group of 83 Spanish media organisations is taking legal action against Meta, the parent company of Facebook. They’re seeking damages amounting to €550 million. Let’s take a look.

What’s the lawsuit all about?

The lawsuit, filed by the AMI newspaper publishing association in a commercial court, accuses Meta of engaging in unfair competition within the advertising market.

These media outlets argue that Meta gains an unfair advantage by extensively and systematically utilising personal data collected from users of its Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp platforms. They claim that this data allows Meta to create and display personalised ads, which they believe constitutes an unfair competitive practice.

Prominent participants in this legal action include Prisa, the publisher of Spain’s major newspaper, El Pais, and Vocento, the owner of ABC and other media properties. This coalition of media entities, which includes privately-owned companies, asserts that a substantial portion of Meta’s advertisements rely on personal data acquired without users’ explicit consent, thereby violating data protection regulations.

Personal data violations

In a press release, the consortium stated, “Meta has repeatedly failed to comply with data protection legislation, ignoring the regulatory requirement that citizens must consent to the use of their data for advertising profiling, as can be seen from the different resolutions of the European authorities competent in this matter”.

They further noted that Meta’s systematic and extensive use of users’ personal data, tracked without their consent during their online activities, appears to have given the American company an unfairly obtained competitive edge in the advertising market.

It’s the second time that Spanish media organisations have taken a stand against tech companies to protect their interests. In 2014, the Spanish government compelled Google News, a service provided by Alphabet, to cease its operations. The service remained offline until 2022, following the implementation of new legislation that enabled media outlets to engage in direct negotiations with the tech giant.

Key takeaways

  • Spanish media consortium, comprising 83 organizations, is suing Meta Platforms for €550 million in damages.
  • Lawsuit alleges unfair competition, claiming Meta utilizes user data without consent to gain an advertising advantage.
  • Prominent media companies like Prisa and Vocento are part of the legal action, citing violations of data protection regulations.

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