Meta Left with $600 Million Headache as Spanish Media Consortium Files Fresh Lawsuitby@ashumerie
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Meta Left with $600 Million Headache as Spanish Media Consortium Files Fresh Lawsuit

by Asher December 6th, 2023
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Spanish media outlets, led by AMI, throw a £550 million legal curveball at Meta, alleging unfair competition and GDPR non-compliance, adding to the tech giant's ongoing legal battles.

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It has been a year of lawsuits for Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and, more recently, Threads’s parent company, Meta.

In 2023 alone, the Tech behemoth has had to cough up interest on a $725 million settlement, while tackling a revived class action lawsuit from its shareholders. Adding to its list of woes, the company faced a sweeping class action lawsuit over child safety violations. The case involving 33 U.S. states was filed on the 24th of October, 2023. This number grows to 42 states when considering the nine attorney generals who filed individual lawsuits in their states and the District of Columbia.

Barely two months after locking horns with the U.S. government, the adtech giant is again in the crosshairs of major legal action. This time, a group representing 83 Spanish media outlets holds the gun.

As reported by Reuters, the group has filed a £550 million ($600 million) lawsuit against the company, citing unfair competition in the online advertising market.

The AMI newspaper publishing association is the group responsible for this lawsuit. Their argument holds that Meta can offer highly personalized ads to users because the company taps into massive banks of personal data from its daughter companies (Facebook, Instagram, & WhatsApp). The newspapers claim that this results in unfair competition and highlights Meta’s “systematic non-compliance” with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This, the association maintains, has been a  constant violation dating back to May 2018-when the regulation was first enforced-that should attract appropriate compensation—$600 million worth.

Must suck to be Mark Zuckerberg right now, ey?

Well, maybe not too much, seeing as the California-based social media giant reported profits of $11.58 billion last quarter, up 2.5% from the previous year.  Moreso, Zuckerberg’s youngest daughter company, Threads, is currently outpacing X, formerly known as Twitter, in terms of new downloads, climbing to 620,000 daily downloads since November 23, from about 350,000 in early November.

While the Meta camp may have enough reason to be all-smiles for now, new lawsuit regardless, the eventual ruling could be the start of an onslaught that would hit Meta across Europe- turning those smiles upside down. Nicolas Gonzalez Cuellar, a lawyer with the Spanish newspapers, told Reuters “Of course, in any other EU country, the same legal proceeding could be initiated” when speaking on the alleged GDPR non-compliance.

This is not the first time Meta has been required to “pay for news.” On Jun 15, 2023, the Canadian parliament passed the Online News Act—designed to force companies like Google and Meta to pay Canadian news publishers for the right to use their content. This would cost Meta and Google a yearly fee to the tune of $250 million, should they go along with the deals stipulated by the legislation. Meta’s response, then, was to ban news sharing in Canada, refusing to lift said ban even as wildfires ravaged through British Columbia.

While the Meta leadership is still locked in a battle of wits with the Canadian government, we’re curious to see how they deal with this new class-action-sized curve ball.

Meta retains its position on HackerNoon’s Tech Company Rankings at #37, while its daughter companies, Facebook and Instagram, hold spots in the Top 20. Facebook sits at the very top at #1, and Instagram hangs steady at #15.

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👋 You’re reading part 1 of HackerNoon's Tech Company News Brief, a weekly collection of tech goodness that combines HackerNoon's proprietary data with internet trends to determine which companies are rising and falling in the public consciousness. Part 2 goes live tomorrow. Hate waiting? No problemo! Just subscribe here to receive the complete newsletter a day early in your inbox.

In Other News…

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  • Instagram and Facebook cross-messaging is coming to an end - via The Verge

This brings us to the end of this week’s Tech Company News Brief.

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-Asher Umerie, World News & SciFi Editor at HackerNoon

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