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(Photo : (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)) The Facebook logo is displayed at the 2018 CeBIT technology trade fair on June 12, 2018 in Hanover, Germany. The 2018 CeBIT is running from June 11-15.

Facebook has been ordered to pay an Italian developer €3.83 million or around $4.72 million in damages over the social media giant's "Nearby" feature.

According to Reuters, the appeals court that is based in Mila upheld a 2019 ruling saying Facebook had intentionally copied the "Nearby" feature from developer Business Competence's Faround app.

Facebook sued over feature

The copyright claims case started in 2012. In that year, Business Competence launched Faround which was made to help users find Facebook friends near their area. The app immediately gained attraction in Italy, according to Reuters.

However, months later, Facebook introduced their own "Nearby" feature, which also competed with other apps like Yelp and Foursquare, and the downloads of Faround decreased.

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The Italian developer immediately responded by filing a lawsuit in 2013, and according to Reuters report, the court issued a preliminary ruling in its favor in 2016 and it was made public in 2017.

Facebook agreed to discontinue the "Nearby" feature in Italy while it appealed the court ruling, but subsequent courts have sided with Business Competence and ordered Facebook to pay the Italian software developer $4.7 million.

A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters that the company had received the court's decision and they are currently examining it carefully.

Facebook lawsuits

This is not the only lawsuit that Facebook is facing. Just last month, the FTC has filed a lawsuit against the social media giant, claiming that Facebook harmed competition by purchasing smaller companies like Instagram and WhatsApp to remove threats to their business.

The said lawsuit centers on the acquisitions of the social media company, particularly its $1 billion purchase of Instagram back in 2011. In addition to its acquisition strategy, the attorneys general allege that Facebook used its power and its reach to stifle user growth for competing services.

For almost 10 years, Facebook has used its dominance and power to crush smaller competitors and remove them from the market.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said that Facebook used their money to acquire potential rivals even before they could get off the ground and thrive on their own.

The Federal Trade Commission or FTC brought a separate lawsuit against Facebook on similar grounds and announced it at the same time as the states' lawsuit. The FTC case called on the court to unwind the acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram.

Ian Conner, the director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement that their aim is to roll back Facebook's anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.

The FTC also noted the state claims about anticompetitive use of platform power, especially Facebook's practice of buying potential competitors. The FTC case also cites the decision of Facebook to block Vine's friend-finding feature.

Facebook said in a statement that both acquisitions had been cleared by regulatory agencies and that overturning them after the fact would have a dangerous precedent.

According to the statement, years after FTC cleared Facebook's acquisitions, the government now wants a do-over. Facebook also said that the government has no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose their services.

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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