Facebook, the king of the social media market, continues to grow quarter over quarter. However, such growth comes at a price, and the firm continues to face the scrutiny from regulators across the world. As it reportedly plans to change its company name, the social media giant – which aims to transition into a “metaverse company” – has been fined £50.5 million ($69.6 million) by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Britain’s competition regulator fined Facebook for breaching an order which was imposed during its investigation into Facebook’s purchase of Giphy, the popular GIF platform. Facebook has been found to be deliberately withholding information related to the investigation.
“We warned Facebook that its refusal to provide us with important information was a breach of the order but, even after losing its appeal in two separate courts, Facebook continued to disregard its legal obligations,” Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers at CMA, said. “This should serve as a warning to any company that thinks it is above the law.”
The CMA has been looking into the acquisition ever since it came to light that this would reduce competition in the digital advertising market, which is largely dominated by Facebook.
It seems that the social media leader failed to prove the CMA with the required information related to an initial enforcement order (IEO) placed on it by the CMA. After Facebook did not do so despite repeated requests, the CMA considered its failure to be a deliberate one.
An IEO puts a halt on further integrations and makes sure that the companies are competing with each other. According to the CMA, Facebook did not provide full updates about its compliance with requirements to continue to compete with Giphy and not integrate its operations with that of the GIF platform.
“This is the first time a company has been found by the CMA to have breached an IEO by consciously refusing to report all the required information,” the CMA said, adding that the hefty fine had been issued “for this major breach, which fundamentally undermined its ability to prevent, monitor and put right any issues.”
“We strongly disagree with the CMA’s unfair decision to punish Facebook for a best-effort compliance approach, which the CMA itself ultimately approved. We will review the CMA’s decision and consider our options,” Facebook said.