Turkish competition board fines Meta Platforms $18.6 million

By Ebru Tuncay

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish competition fines Meta: Turkey’s competition authority has fined Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc 346.72 million lira ($18.63 million) for breaking competition law, it said on Wednesday.

The Turkish regulator said the company held a dominant position in personal social networking services and online video advertising and had obstructed competitors by merging data collected through its core services Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

In 2021, the competition authority launched an investigation into WhatsApp, and then Facebook Inc., after the messaging app updated its terms of service saying it was reserving the right of its owner Facebook Inc and its subsidiaries to collect user data such as phone numbers and locations, a change that was rolled out globally.

A spokesperson for Meta Platforms said the company disagrees with the probe’s findings and will consider all options.

“The 2021 update did not ask users to agree to let Facebook collect user data. It provided clearer, more detailed information to our users on how and why we use data,” the spokesperson said, adding that there were no changes to WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with that update.

Turkey’s competition authority said Meta must act to reinstate competition in these markets and prepare annual reports about the steps it will take for the next five years.

It said the fine was based on the company’s 2021 income and the company could object to the decision within 60 days.

Social media companies have been a focus of attention in Turkey, which adopted a law last week that would jail journalists and social media users for up to three years for spreading material deemed “disinformation”.

Analysts have said social media companies are unlikely toabide in full by the law, that requires them to remove such material and to share user data with authorities.