The association of Spanish newspapers has filed a lawsuit worth millions of euros against Meta for their advertising practices.

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish association representing more than 80 newspapers has filed a lawsuit against Facebook parent Meta accusing it of unfair competition in online advertising by allegedly ignoring European Union rules on data protection.

The Information Media Association has issued a statement requesting a payment of 550 million euros ($600 million) from the social media company. This association represents numerous newspapers, including Spain’s top daily publications El País, El Mundo, ABC, and La Vanguardia.

The organization alleges that Meta has consistently and significantly failed to adhere to EU data protection laws from May 2018 to July 2023.

The text stated that Meta has consistently disregarded the need for users to give their consent for their data to be used for advertising targeting.

The company refused to provide a statement, stating that it had not reviewed the legal documents.

Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms have been utilizing behavioral advertising for a significant amount of time to generate revenue. This method involves monitoring an individual’s online actions, such as their browsing patterns, mouse clicks, and app usage, and utilizing this information to create profiles for the purpose of targeting advertisements to users.

However, recent legal decisions have weakened Meta’s ability to justify its practices in accordance with the EU’s data protection laws. In July, the highest court in the EU ruled that the company cannot compel users in the 27 member states to consent to tailored advertisements, stating that consent must be freely given. In response, Meta introduced ad-free options for Facebook and Instagram in Europe, available for a monthly fee.

The Spanish organization stated that Meta platforms have been using personal data of users without their consent to offer targeted advertisements. This has given the U.S. company an unfair advantage and indirectly jeopardizes the income of Spanish media.

The message urged advertisers from both the public and private sectors to choose trustworthy and responsible media outlets for their advertising campaigns. These media outlets should prioritize citizen rights and support democratic values in Spain.

Irene Lanzaco, director general of the association, stated that it is imperative to stop the actions of technology companies who are able to pay large fines and still fail to follow regulations. This is causing harm to the market and allowing them to profit from illegitimate means.

The lawsuit was brought to Madrid’s commercial courts.


Kelvin Chan, a writer for the Associated Press, contributed to this piece from London.