Meta fined by Italian Regulatory Authority for gambling ad violation

Lea Hogg 3 months ago
Meta fined by Italian Regulatory Authority for gambling ad violation

Meta, the parent company of social media giants Facebook and Instagram, has been handed a substantial €5.85 million fine by the Italian Communications Regulatory Authority (AGCOM).

The penalty was imposed for violating Italy’s strict laws on gambling advertising, marking a noteworthy escalation in regulatory actions against major online platforms.

AGCOM reveals extensive violations

The AGCOM investigation, conducted with precision, uncovered “promotional content” related to gaming and betting on 18 social media profiles.

Five of these profiles were on Instagram, and the remaining 13 were on Facebook, both platforms being under the ownership of Meta. The regulator also identified 32 “sponsored” video and/or image posts aimed at promoting or advertising online gaming and betting activities.

In a decisive ruling, AGCOM held Meta accountable as the owner of the means of dissemination. The regulator argued that Meta, far from being a passive technical hosting platform, actively provides a real advertising service.

Meta’s awareness of the illegality of the content was emphasized by AGCOM, leading to the imposition of liability on the company.

Meta’s partial liability

While Meta was held liable for only five of the 18 flagged accounts, the company has taken corrective measures.

Upon being contacted by the regulator, Meta promptly removed 11 of the offending profiles. However, this was not sufficient to evade the financial penalty, which was accompanied by an official notice and a take-down order.

Italy’s industry backlash

The Meta breach was in direct violation of Italy’s Dignity Decree, implemented in July 2018 to address issues related to problem gambling and addiction within the country. The decree imposed a stringent ban on all forms of gambling and betting advertising across various mediums, including sports team jerseys, stadiums, and multiple media platforms.

This recent move by AGCOM follows similar fines imposed on video platforms YouTube (€2.5 million) and Twitch (€900,000) earlier in the month for comparable gambling ad breaches.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has criticized Italy’s ban on gambling ads, arguing that it inadvertently fosters a thriving offshore market.

Closing Stock Market Note

As the news broke, Meta Platforms, Inc. (META) experienced a slight dip, trading at $353.96 with a decrease of 1.22 percent, signalling potential investor concerns regarding the regulatory challenges faced by the tech giant in the evolving landscape of online gambling advertising.

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