European Union says social media firms 'must do more' for consumers

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 15, 2018

Following objections by consumers who have been targeted by scams and been subject to terms and conditions that do not respect European Union consumer law, an enforcement order was issued in late 2016 compelling the three companies to abide by a number of requests, which also include a term that released the various platforms from having to identify sponsored content.

"I am pleased that the enforcement of EU rules to protect consumers by national authorities is bearing fruit, as some companies are now making their platforms safer for consumers; however, it is unacceptable that this is still not complete and it is taking so much time", said Vera Jourova, European commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality.

Google+'s latest proposals are in line with the requests made by European consumer authorities but Facebook, and more significantly Twitter, have only partially addressed issues.

She added that if companies fail to comply, "they should face sanctions".

Chief EU commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters in Brussels on Thursday (15 February) that Facebook and Twitter "have only partially met [EU's] requests".

The sticking points appear to be over their liability and about how users are informed about content removal or contract termination, the European Commission said. Social networks are no longer prevented from taking advantage of the rights conferred by European law as regards consumer protection, and in the future will better identify both commercial communications and sponsored content.

The companies all agreed to implement the changes sought by the end of the first quarter of 2018. It works with experts beyond Facebook including designers, privacy professionals and regulators.

US technology companies have faced tight scrutiny in Europe for the way they do business, from privacy issues to how quickly they remove illegal or threatening content.

When it comes to the "notice and action procedure" used by consumer protection authorities to report and request the removal of illegal content, the changes by some companies were found to be insufficient.

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