Spanish press publishers sue Meta

Facebook and Instagram have 144 and 133 million regular users respectively in Europe. GONZALO FUENTES / REUTERS

They are demanding 550 million euros in compensation for unfair competition in the advertising market.

More than 80 Spanish newspapers attack Meta in court for unfair competition in the advertising market. The AMI publishers’ ociation, which brings together most of the major national dailies as well as the majority of regional newspapers, believes that the owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp has infringed “systematic and mive manner » the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), thus ensuring a competitive advantage in the race for advertising revenue against media which respect the rules.

Meta’s behavior results in 100% of its revenues derived from the sale of advertising were obtained illegitimately », accuses the organization. AMI is therefore demanding 550 million euros to compensate for the practice.

Until last July, Meta made the opening of a new account on its services conditional on acceptance of data capture for advertising profiling purposes. This reading of the GDPR, which offers no alternative to the Internet user who refuses this market, was sanctioned by the European authorities with a fine of 390 million euros. Meta reacted by setting up a subscription in November at 9.99 euros per month for users who refuse the tracking of their browsing data. In exchange, they no longer see ads on Facebook and Instagram.

“Unprecedented” action

Spanish publishers are noticing the flight of certain advertisers, who prefer the large base of ultra-personalized profiles offered by Mark Zuckerberg’s company to indiscriminate advertising on newspapers’ paper and web media. The weight of Gafa in the Spanish advertising pie reached 44% in 2022, according to a study by the companies Media Hotline and Arce Media.

The president of AMI, José Joly Martínez de Salazar, described the complaint filed last Friday in the Commercial Court of Madrid as an action “unprecedented » and denounced that the Californian giant “built its dominant position in the advertising market by disregarding legislation designed to protect the fundamental right to privacy of European citizens, and by causing obvious harm to the Spanish media to the point of jeopardizing their activity “.

Read alsoAurélie Jean: “40 American states are pursuing Meta, let’s take inspiration from them!”

AMI invited public and private advertisers to prefer to buy advertising space in newspapers, “in line with their social responsibility policies“. This Monday, most major national dailies carried the legal action on the front page of their headlines and prominently on their websites.

Spanish publishers are not their first confrontation with the giants of Silicon Valley. In 2014, a tax was put in place for content aggregators providing their pages with summaries of articles from the Spanish press. Google responded by suspending its Google News service in Spain. If Meta reacted in the same way, deactivating links to newspapers from Facebook or WhatsApp would have an influence on the traffic of news sites. For the moment, the company has not mentioned retaliation.

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