Facebook and WhatsApp owner Meta Platforms has been referred to a tribunal by South Africa’s competition watchdog over allegations that it has exploited its market dominance.
A statement from South Africa’s Competition Commission reported by India’s Economic Times accused Meta of “abusing its dominance by engaging in exclusionary conduct geared at preventing competitors or potential competitors from entering into, participating, and expanding in a market.”
The commission cited the example of Meta’s decision to ‘offboard’ the citizen engagement tool GovChat and its #LetsTalk subsidiary from the WhatsApp Business API, claiming that Meta had “imposed and/or selectively enforced exclusionary terms and conditions regulating access” to the API, including “restrictions on the use of data.”
WhatsApp hit back at the accusation, arguing that the start-up GovChat had not complied with its terms of service, saying: “GovChat has repeatedly refused to comply with our policies which are designed to protect citizens and their information, preferring to prioritise their own commercial interests over the public.”
Antitrust authorities worldwide have made moves against Meta over its market dominance, although the company’s share price has dropped by around $250 billion as rival social media firms such as TikTok gain traction.