Meta and TikTok have opened a challenge before the European courts over the new EU competition rules that will apply in March 2024. At the beginning of September, the European Commission designated 22 digital platforms that will be subject to the Digital Markets Regulation (DMA) from 6 March.

On Wednesday, Meta announced that it was challenging the designation of Messenger and Facebook Marketplace within the scope of the new law before the EU General Court. "This action seeks to clarify specific points of law," a Meta spokesperson said. "It does not alter or diminish our firm commitment to comply with the DMA."

Meta and TikTok side by side

At the same time, the group will continue to prepare for the compliance of Messenger and Marketplace. Moreover, it does not call into question the presence of four other of its services (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and its online advertising activities) among the 22 platforms covered.

The next day, TikTok also announced that it would challenge its designation in court because it sees itself as an emerging player, useful to the competition. The designation "risks protecting the very monopolies that the law was intended to challenge," the company said, arguing that it represented a healthy competitor to the current dominant platforms.

Tough penalties for anti-competitive practices

The DMA introduces strict new rules aimed at curbing anti-competitive practices in tech. The platforms concerned are all key players in the sector: social networks (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok), instant messaging (WhatsApp, Messenger), operating systems (Android, Windows), browsers (Chrome, Safari) or search engines (Google).

The 22 platforms are owned by just six tech giants: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and China's ByteDance, which owns TikTok. The DMA imposes a straitjacket of obligations and prohibitions on them, supervised by the European Commission, which intends to further open up these markets to competition.

Companies found to be in breach will be subject to fines of up to 20% of their global turnover in the event of a repeat offence, or even dismantling measures in the most serious cases. Unsurprisingly, the legislation is already the subject of legal challenges, a mere foretaste of future disputes over the interpretation of the texts.

Interoperability soon to be imposed in the EU

Asked by AFP, the European Commission did not comment on the two legal actions. However, an EU official said he was "confident" that all groups were working to be compliant by 6 March. "Companies are challenging in court, but at the same time they are doing what is necessary to comply with the law," he said.

In particular, the DMA will require interoperability with competing services and facilitate the uninstallation of pre-installed applications. For example, it will force Apple to allow app stores other than the Apple Store on its iPhones or iPads. It will ban any favoritism in search engine results, a common criticism of Google.

  • Meta
  • TikTok
  • Competition
  • European Union (EU)
  • Justice
  • Social media
  • Tech