Over 80 Spanish media outlets have sued Meta over its alleged lack of advertising standards on social media platform Facebook. 

The Spanish Newpaper Association (AMI) sued Meta for $598m (€550m) over unfair advertising practices using Facebook user data. 

In a statement AMI said that Meta’s “systematic” use of user data gave the company an unfair advantage in online personalised advertising. 

AMI also stated that Meta’s misuse of data violated EU data regulations between May 2018 and July 2023 by not obtaining sufficient and informed consent from its Facebook users. 

Research company GlobalData notes that Facebook has around three billion monthly active users and has shown consistent growth in its user base since 2008. 

In its lawsuit, AMI stated that 100% of the income derived from Facebook’s ad revenue was “obtained illegally”. In Facebook’s Q3 2023 financial results, Meta recorded a 31% increase in ad impressions and a 6% decrease in advertising price. 

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By GlobalData

“META has repeatedly failed to comply with Community data protection legislation, ignoring the regulatory requirement that citizens must consent to the use of their data for advertising profiling,” stated AMI. 

The Spanish Government previously closed Alphabet’s Google News service in 2014 after it passed legislation that required news aggregators to pay a licensing fee to republish news. 

Google News only just reopened in Spain, in 2021, after updated legislation allowed for media aggregators to negotiate this licensing fee directly with publishers. 

The president of AMI Jose Joly stated that the media sector is Spain’s second-most digitalised sector, stating that this was only surpassed by tech companies themselves. 

Describing the media sector as “pioneers in digitalisation”, Joly stated that large companies like Meta were making it impossible for media employees to receive fair pay for their work. 

Meta has previously been under scrutiny from Norway’s data protection agency Datatilsynet over its use of user data in personalised ads. 

In its original complaint, Datatilsynet stated that Meta portrayed a “persistent state of non-compliance” to GDPR in its investigation.