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South Korea’s antitrust regulator takes steps to penalize Meta

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Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta, arrives in South Korea on Feb. 27 for his three-day visit. [YONHAP]

Korea’s antitrust watchdog is moving to penalize Meta Platforms for alleged failures to protect local consumers on Facebook and Instagram marketplaces such as counterfeit sales.

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has concluded its investigation into Meta’s purported violations of Korea’s e-commerce law and subsequently sent a report to the U.S. technology giant, according to local media reports Friday.

The investigation primarily focused on Meta’s handling of consumer issues within the Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Marketplace, they added.

These marketplaces allow Facebook and Instagram users to buy and sell new and used products locally. Meta also offers a service to help small businesses create separate business accounts for e-commerce activities.

The Korean e-commerce law demands e-commerce platform operators provide information about sellers to consumers and establish mechanisms for addressing consumer complaints and disputes.

The FTC alleges that Meta failed to fulfill these obligations as it has not taken enough measures to remedy or prevent consumer damage, including fraud and counterfeit sales on its platforms.

However, some experts argue that Meta, as a social media service operator, may not fall directly under the jurisdiction of the Korean e-commerce law, which targets online shopping platform operators.

Nevertheless, the FTC believes that Meta’s provision of separate business accounts on Facebook and Instagram qualifies it as an e-commerce platform operator under Korean law, according to insider sources.

BY SEO JI-EUN, YONHAP [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]