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South Africa sues Facebook

March 15, 2022

By Chris Forrester

South Africa’s Competition Commission has hit Facebook’s parent, Meta, with alleged “abuse of dominance” and is seeking a hefty fine for Facebook.

The Commission, in a statement which included references to Meta subsidiaries WhatsApp and Facebook South Africa, says that it has cited the two companies for prosecution at the Competition Tribunal and would be seeking the imposition of a “maximum penalty” equal to 10 per cent of the pair’s combined revenues in South Africa.

Commission spokesman Sipho Ngwema said the decision to start proceedings follows complaints made by local rival GovChat and ‘#LetsTalk’ and made in November 2020 and contained allegations that Facebook of abusing its dominance in instant messaging.

State-backed GovChat was launched in 2018.

“Facebook has imposed and/or selectively enforced exclusionary terms and conditions regulating access to the WhatsApp Business API, mainly restrictions on the use of data,” the regulator said on March 14. “This is in contravention of the Competition Act… [which] prohibits a dominant firm from abusing its dominance by engaging in exclusionary conduct geared at preventing competitors or potential competitors from entering into, participating and expanding in a market.”

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