Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is pushing back against the European Commission’s decision to classify its messaging app Messenger and its online marketplace Marketplace as gatekeepers in accordance with the bloc’s stringent new regulations on tech platforms. The social media giant has filed an appeal against the designations, arguing that neither service should be subject to these regulations.
However, it is important to note that Meta has decided not to contest the gatekeeper status applied to its other popular platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, as reported by Reuters. This indicates that Meta is strategically selecting which designations to challenge, and which to comply with.
Under the Digital Markets Act, platforms designated as gatekeepers must adhere to specific rules regarding neutrality and openness. For instance, messaging services such as Meta’s Messenger are required to be interoperable with other messaging services, while sales platforms like Marketplace must operate under rules that safeguard the merchants who use it. These rules are designed to foster fair competition and protect the rights of users and businesses within the digital market.
Meta’s contention with the European Commission’s decision centers around the argument that Messenger is not distinct from Facebook and that Marketplace should not be classified as a gatekeeper due to its consumer-to-consumer nature. The company asserts that Messenger is essentially a feature of Facebook rather than a standalone messaging platform, despite being separated from the main app for nearly a decade before being recently reunited. Similarly, Meta claims that Marketplace does not meet the criteria for a gatekeeper because it operates as a service connecting individual consumers without Meta serving as an intermediary.
The deadline for tech companies to challenge the European Commission’s gatekeeper designations is imminent, and a court is expected to rule on the appeals within months. This timeline aligns with the March 6th deadline for compliance with the regulations. It’s worth noting that Apple is also anticipated to appeal at least one of its own gatekeeper designations, as reported by the Financial Times.
In response to the appeal, Meta’s spokesperson, Chris Sgro, emphasized that the company’s action seeks clarification on specific legal points regarding the designations of Messenger and Marketplace under the Digital Markets Act. It is important to note that this appeal does not detract from Meta’s commitment to complying with the regulations, and the company asserts that it will continue to work collaboratively with the European Commission to prepare for compliance.
The outcome of Meta’s appeal will have significant implications for the digital market landscape in the European Union. If successful, it could potentially exempt Messenger and Marketplace from certain regulatory requirements, providing Meta with more flexibility in how it operates these services within the EU. On the other hand, if the appeal is unsuccessful, Meta will need to adapt its operations in compliance with the gatekeeper regulations, which could impact the user experience and functionality of these platforms.
In the broader context, the ongoing legal battles between tech giants and regulatory bodies reflect the increasing scrutiny and regulation of digital markets worldwide. With the digital landscape continuously evolving, these legal disputes and regulatory decisions shape the future of digital innovation, competition, and consumer rights.