Amazon and Meta agree to improve the way they treat competitors 

The competition watchdog has secured commitments from Amazon and Meta to change its marketplace rules to address competition concerns

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has secured new commitments from Amazon and Meta around competitive practices on their retail marketplaces to protect consumers.

The competition watchdog said it had secured the new arrangements after separate investigations into the two platforms.

CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell said:

‘We welcome the constructive resolution of our concerns in a way that benefits people and businesses and expect to see more of this kind of resolution once the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill comes into force.’

Amazon marketplace

As part of the new commitments, Amazon has agreed to give independent sellers a fair chance of their offers being featured in the site’s “Buy Box”, where most sales on the platform take place.

In addition, the CMA said Amazon will be prevented from using marketplace data it obtains from third-party sellers to give itself an unfair competitive advantage.

It will also allow sellers to negotiate their own delivery rates directly with independent providers.

The CMA launched an investigation in July 2022 into concerns that Amazon was abusing its position as the UK’s leading online retail platform.

This included concerns that Amazon was giving an unfair advantage to its own retail business over independent sellers that use its market places, and to sellers who use Amazon’s own warehouse and delivery services over rival logistics firms.

Ann Pope, the CMA’s senior director for antitrust enforcement, said: ‘We have accepted Amazon’s commitments as they help thousands of independent UK sellers to compete on a level playing field against Amazon’s own retail arm. This should also mean customers get access to the best product offers.’

An Amazon spokesperson said: ‘We have engaged constructively with the CMA and we welcome this resolution which will preserve our ability to serve both our customers and the over 100,000 small and medium-sized businesses selling through our UK store.

‘We are extremely proud of the work our teams have done to support our sellers’ success over the past two decades.’

Facebook marketplace

In relation to Meta, the CMA said the tech giant had signed commitments which will prevent it from exploiting advertising customers’ data via its Facebook Marketplace.

Competitors of Facebook Marketplace that advertise on Meta platforms will now have the ability to opt out of their data being used to improve Facebook’s retail platform.

Meta has also pledged to limit how it uses ad data when developing its products, the CMA said. ‘The commitments secured from Meta mean the firm cannot exploit advertising customers’ data to give itself an unfair advantage – and as such distort competition,’ Pope said.

A Meta company spokesperson said: ‘We welcome the CMA’s decision to close its investigation into Marketplace on the basis of the commitments offered by Meta to put in place systems and controls designed to confirm and validate that advertiser data from competitors is not used in Marketplace.

‘We also welcome the CMA’s confirmation that it found no concerns with respect to the use of advertising data in Facebook Dating.’

Consumer lawsuits against Amazon and Meta

Amazon is facing two competing multi-million-pound consumer lawsuits for favouring its own products. Amazon has been accused in separate claims from consumer advocates Julie Hunter and Robert Hammond of not always offering customers the best deals. Amazon is also accused of striking a secret deal to increase the cost of Apple products in a £500m consumer lawsuit being pursued by consumer law expert Professor Christine Riefa.

Facebook faces a £2.2bn legal claim that alleges it exploited 45m UK users by unfairly profiting from their data. Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen is bringing this group action against Meta, the owner of Facebook, accusing the company of generating billions in revenue by profiting from its users’ highly valuable data. She says it got this data by using unfair T&Cs that say you must agree to hand over your data in order to access Facebook.

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