Facebook is no stranger to legal probes and federal investigations. Company CEO Mark Zuckerberg went through the wringer last year when he was brought before US Congress to answer dozens of questions about Facebook’s business practices, data privacy standards, and — of course — the notorious Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Some of these questions were certainly better than others, and Zuckerberg mostly made his way through the dilemma unscathed. Most of the questions asked by Senators demonstrated a lack of basic understanding regarding how Facebook, and indeed the internet at large, works. For example, one Senator asked Zuckerberg how Facebook stays afloat when it offers its services for free — the CEO simply responded with “Senator, we run ads.”
Historically, Facebook hasn’t fared quite as well when questioned by European lawmakers, and we’re likely to see more of that moving forward. Reuters reports that Facebook (and, to a seemingly lesser extent, Google) has been targeted with an official antitrust investigation in the EU, which will focus on the platform’s data collection practices.
The outlet says regulators are concerned that Facebook might be using its massive consumer data trove to strongarm its competitors and block them from expanding into “new sectors.”
Whether or not these fears are valid remains to be seen, but that’s the point of these investigations. The regulators involved will ask questions, demand files, and battle against Facebook’s lawyers until either the truth comes out, or a settlement is reached, whichever comes first.
The EU’s antitrust officials have already sent out a “questionnaire” to Facebook and Google in the hopes of gathering some preliminary information, but it’s tough to say how effective this strategy will be.