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Facebook to pay €3.6M fine in Hungary over claims of free services

Facebook Inc., through its unit Facebook Ireland Ltd., will pay a €3.6 million fine in Hungary for supposedly misleading users by claiming its services were free of charge.

The Hungarian Competition Authority, or Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, imposed the fine over the claims, which were found to be deceptive and in violation of the country's competition law. It noted that while users were indeed not paying for the social media company's services, Facebook indirectly earned profits from selling targeted ads based on the users' data and activities.

"The essence of the (so-called zero price) model of Facebook is that it attracts users with its online platform's content and it collects detailed information about its users' interests, behaviour and purchasing habits," the regulator said Dec. 6.

The watchdog said Facebook already changed the slogans that carried the misleading claims.

Facebook is also facing penalties of up to €1.1 million after a Dutch court ruled against ads on its platform that misused likenesses of local celebrities to advertise bitcoin-related investments. Facebook has appealed the decision.