Meta is being investigated in South Africa for possible antitrust violations.

facebook meta surveillance 2

The government’s startup GovChat and LetsTalk were found to be uncompetitive in their use of the WhatsApp Business API.

The case against Meta (previously Facebook) was submitted for prosecution to the Competition Tribunal, which adjudicates accusations of restrictive practises and abuse of dominance, by the watchdog, which has been examining claims of unfair conduct against the firm since March 2021.

The regulator proposes that Meta pay the “maximum penalty”—a fine of 10% of the US company’s local turnover—in its referral.

According to the commission, Meta allegedly threatened to prohibit GovChat and LetsTalk from using its WhatsApp Business API “in or around” July 2020, according to the threat. It goes on to say that Meta placed unfair restrictions on the startup’s data usage, limiting its capacity to innovate and build new goods and services that could compete with Meta’s.

According to the regulator, “the terms and conditions governing access to the WhatsApp Business API are designed to shield and insulate Facebook from potential competition, such as the potential competition presented by GovChat and the enormous data it has been able to harvest that enables it to develop new services and products.”

The South African government created GovChat in 2018 as a citizen engagement platform that uses the WhatsApp Business API to enable real-time communication. According to government data, it presently has 8.7 million active users and has processed over 582 million communications.

The government has used GovChat to process social security applications, particularly for emotional support during the COVID pandemic, in addition to providing a source of notifications and complaints on municipal issues such as potholes on highways. The GovChat platform has received more than 13.3 million applications.

The referral for prosecution comes just days after competition supervisory bodies from five African countries, including South Africa, signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at fostering collaborative action against barriers to the emergence and expansion of African digital platforms, among other things. Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, and Nigeria were the other signatories to the accord.

Meta has been scrutinised on a global scale for suspected anticompetitive activity. The European Commission just initiated a formal antitrust inquiry into whether an arrangement between Meta and Google for online display advertising services, code-named “Jedi-Blue,” may have violated EU competition rules.

According to the European Commission, the September 2018 Jedi-Blue agreement sought Meta’s Audience Network’s participation in Google’s Open Bidding programme, a move that could potentially exclude other ad tech service providers and “distort competition in markets for online display advertising, to the detriment of publishers, and ultimately consumers.”

Meanwhile, the US Federal Trade Commission is suing Meta for illegal monopolisation, charging that the social media behemoth is illegally retaining its social networking monopoly through anticompetitive activities such as the nearly ten-year-old acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

Kaitlin Welch

Kaitlin Welch manages to cover anything. She is our freelance contributor. Kristie is responsible for covering reporting in finance and business News categories. Kaitlin has experience of 5 years as a reporter to News insights. Kaitlin writes related to the News Category.

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