UK watchdog fines Meta for a second time

Meta has been fined £1.5 million by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after it failed to tell the regulator about key staff leaving the company.

As part of an investigation into Meta’s purchase of Giphy, in 2020 the authority issued an initial enforcement order (IEO), which is as standard practice for mergers.

The order is designed to ensure that companies involved in a merger continue to compete with one another as they would have before the deal took place and prevents the merged companies from integrating further while a merger review is taking place.

The IEO required Meta to actively inform the competition authority of any ‘material changes’ to the business, including resignations of key staff, and then seek prior consent before rehiring or redistributing responsibilities. Meta failed to report the resignation of three key employees and the reallocation of their roles.

The fine marks the second time the CMA has issued Meta with a penalty for breaching the order.

In October 2021, the firm was fined over £50 million after it significantly limited the scope of compliance reports, despite repeated warnings from the UK competition watchdog.

“Meta failed to alert us in advance to important changes in their staff, despite knowing they were legally required to do so,” said Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers, CMA. “This is not the first time this has happened.

“Initial enforcement orders are an integral part of our mergers toolkit and ensure the CMA is able to take effective action if we find competition concerns. Breaches like this one threaten our ability to maintain the benefits of competition for people using these products and services.”

On 30 November 2021, the CMA decided that Meta was to sell Giphy after finding the deal could harm social media users and UK advertisers.

“We are disappointed by the CMA’s decision to fine us because of the voluntary departure of US-based employees," said a Meta spokesperson. "We intend to pay the fine, but it is problematic that the CMA can take decisions that could directly impact the rights of our US employees protected under US law.” -


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