Facebook Germany
Is Facebook abusing its dominant market position and violating data protection rules in Germany? A competition watchdog was convince it did and as a result, they are announcing last 2 March that they had opened a probe into the social network.

Just days after Facebook's founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg made a highly-publicised visit to Berlin, the Federal Cartel Office said it had "initiated a proceeding against Facebook Inc., USA, the Irish subsidiary of the company and Facebook Germany GmbH".

"The authority is investigating suspicions that with its specific terms of service on the use of user data, Facebook has abused its possibly dominant position in the market for social networks," said the office, the Bundeskartellamt, in a statement.

Facebook has come under fire from privacy advocates who claim the social network collects too much data and is not transparent enough in how it uses the information.

The German cartel watchdog said there was "an initial suspicion" that Facebook's conditions of use were in violation of data protection provisions.

This "could represent an abusive imposition of unfair conditions on users," it explained.

The Bundeskartellamt will examine, "among other issues, to what extent a connection exists between the possibly dominant position of the company and the use of such clauses," it said.

Cartel office chief Andreas Mundt said that for advertising-financed Internet services such as Facebook, user data were "hugely important".

"For this reason it is essential to also examine under the aspect of abuse of market power whether the consumers are sufficiently informed about the type and extent of data collected," Mundt said.

The office said that Facebook collected a large amount of personal user data from various sources.

By creating user profiles the company enabled its advertising customers to better target their activities.