Germany Stops Facebook in Gathering Data From Other Social Media Websites

Andreas Mundt president of Germany's Federal Cartel Office addresses a news conference presenting findings of the anti-trust

The Federal Cartel Office, or Bundeskartellamt said the firm was exploiting its position as a dominant social media company in violation of European regulations.

The use of "voluntary" here is important because it means Facebook can't try to coerce users into agreeing to the data merger. With the Cambridge Analytica controversy, and ongoing reports of political interference by foreign groups, Facebook has been doing all it can to show that it is responsible, that it is able to manage and make effective, secure use of the vast data insights that its 2.3 billion users give it access to.

In January, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defended his company in the global media, saying its advertising-based business model required collecting personal data.

The Bundeskartellamt says Facebook users have only been able to use the social network on the condition that it can collect user data "outside of the Facebook website in the internet or on smartphone apps and assign these data to the user's Facebook account".

The German antitrust regulator's powers were expanded in 2017 to include consumer protection in public-interest cases where it could argue that a company - such as Facebook - had so little competition that consumers lack any effective choice.

It said that companies such as Snapchat (SNAP), Google's (GOOGL) YouTube and Twitter(TWTR) don't offer the same services as Facebook and therefore can't be included in the market.

He added that the firm's 23 million daily active users in Germany amounts to a market share of 95 percent, and that it is hard for users to leave since there is no "plausible alternative".

By the end of Facebook's statement the company leans heavily into the claim that everybody else is doing it, so why can't they-which may be the most terrifying point.

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Facebook says the FCO decision misapplies German competition law and limits German users from using the full extent of its products.

Facebook said it would appeal the decision, the culmination of a three-year probe, saying the regulator underestimated the competition it faced, and undermined Europe-wide privacy rules that took effect last year.

"Facebook-owned services like WhatsApp and Instagram can continue to collect data".

In its response, Facebook said that its practice of merging its users' information across platforms and sites allows it both to improve its service and to "protect people's safety".

The ruling would "implement an unconventional standard for a single company", Facebook said.

Vancouver-based online publication The Tyee reported on January 30 on Facebook's dealings with Royal Bank, prompting queries from parliamentarian Charlie Angus to Canada's privacy commissioner at the January 31 committee meeting in Ottawa. When users provide social media networks with data through social games and memes, like the 10-Year Challenge, they risk their privacy.

Speaking after the watchdog cracked down on the transfer of user data between the apps, Andreas Mundt said such a step would "intensify" the very practices that it is seeking to prevent through its ruling. However, assigning the data to Facebook user accounts will only be possible subject to the users' voluntary consent. But the chart does make one wonder into which little box - messages? news? shopping? videos - Facebook places itself. Facebook is becoming more and more indispensable for advertising customers.

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