Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has been hit with a €550 million ($600m) lawsuit by AMI, an umbrella group that represents 83 Spanish media outlets.
As reported by Reuters, the class action has been taken due to a claim of unfair competition in the advertising market which centers around Meta’s “massive” and “systematic” use of personal data from its Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp platforms.
There will be plenty of interest in this case as it could be replicated across the European Union (EU), depending on the outcome.
Nicolas Gonzalez Cuellar, a lawyer representing the media group, told Reuters, “Of course, in any other EU country, the same legal proceeding could be initiated” as it concerns an alleged violation of European regulations.
The body of complainants includes Prisa, the publisher of Spain’s leading newspaper El Pais, and ABC owner Vocento. They allege that most of the ads placed online by Meta use personal data obtained without express consent from users.
The point of contention will be the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which has been in place since 2018, as it is claimed that Meta has violated this directive. The regulation requires websites to request authorization to keep and use personal data.
Traditional news media vs. Facebook
Newspapers and traditional media organizations fight a losing battle in our evolving digital age. For years now, newspapers have had to adapt to plummeting demand for printed products by providing their news online. But digital news is not nearly as profitable as the heyday of print. Their advertising revenues are squed by the likes of Meta and Google. People’s news consumption has changed dramatically, with millions getting news from social networks rather than news sites.
Newspapers worldwide strive to force Meta to pay their way for using and sharing their content effectively, but this has been a tough fight with limited results.
Legal action like this case is one form of redress that could significantly impact the online news landscape, as well as the potential domino effect for a market like the EU.
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