EU’s top court rules against targeted advertising on Facebook

The European Court of Justice ruled that Facebook’s targeted advertising model is violating the GDPR and engaging in extensive user profiling without voluntary consent.

 Electronics, Phone, Mobile Phone, Text

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that Meta (formerly Facebook) cannot profile users across its platforms and the web without real consent. 

The ruling comes as a blow to Facebook, whose core business model is targeted advertising. A potential direct result might be a German ban on Meta’s customary combination of user data from its WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook platforms and data derived from tracking people as they visit third-party to provide personalised advertising on the company’s longest-running social network. 

The case the CJEU ruled on began in 2019 when the German antitrust authority suspected Facebook of abusing its dominant position by engaging in targeted advertising without users’ consent for extensive profiling. German antitrust authority concluding that Facebook was breaking the terms of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  was unprecedented as it involved a competition authority deploying GDPR and not only a data protection authority.

Facebook appealed, which led to the CJEU ruling today, which confirmed that competition authorities could indeed check the company’s compliance with other laws such as GDPR.