German authorities ruled Thursday that Facebook should not be allowed to use customer data from other apps and websites to help target advertisements shown on their Facebook pages without their explicit consent, saying it was exploiting its dominant position in social media.
The Federal Cartel Office, or Bundeskartellamt, said Facebook was guilty of “exploitative abuse” by forcing users to agree to allow it to collect data from other Facebook-owned services like WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as third-party websites through the “Like” or “Share” features.
“On the one hand there is a service provided to users free of charge,” Cartel Office president Andreas Mundt said. “On the other hand, the attractiveness and value of the advertising spaces increase with the amount and detail of user data. It is therefore precisely in the area of data collection and data use where Facebook, as a dominant company, must comply with the rules and laws applicable in Germany and Europe.”
Facebook said it rejected the decision, and would appeal within the one-month frame before it becomes final.