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TechNow Germany opens antitrust probe into Facebook

Now Germany opens antitrust probe into Facebook

Published: 11th Dec 2020 5:00 pm

Berlin: A day after the US federal government and 48 states filed antitrust charges against Facebook, Germany’s competition watchdog launched abuse proceedings against the social networking giant for linking the platform to its Oculus virtual reality (VR) products.

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The probe by Bundeskartellamt or the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) announced on Thursday will examine how the linkage between Oculus VR products and the Facebook platform will affect competition in the country’s social media and VR segments.

The move comes after Facebook earlier this year asked users of the latest Oculus kit to merge their Oculus and Facebook accounts in two years as the platform announced its decision to end support for Oculus accounts after January 1, 2023.

“In the future, the use of the new Oculus glasses requires the user to also have a Facebook account. Linking virtual reality products and the group’s social network in this way could constitute a prohibited abuse of dominance by Facebook,” Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, said in a statement.

“With its social network Facebook holds a dominant position in Germany and is also already an important player in the emerging but growing VR market. We intend to examine whether and to what extent this tying arrangement will affect competition in both areas of activity.”

In early 2019, in another abuse of dominance proceeding against Facebook, the Bundeskartellamt had already imposed extensive restrictions on the company regarding the processing of user data.

Facebook was prohibited from extensively collecting and merging user data from different sources.

The social networking giant had lodged an emergency appeal against the German watchdog’s decision.

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