EU Demands More Consumer Protections From Social Media

(CN) – Social media platforms – in particular Facebook and Twitter – haven’t gone far enough to comply with EU consumer-protection laws, the European Commission said Thursday.

A year ago, the commission and national consumer authorities asked Google, Facebook and Twitter to amend their terms of service so they’re aligned with EU consumer law. The three social media giants made some changes, which took effect on Thursday.

Changes include an end to forcing users to waive their EU consumer rights – including the right to cancel an online purchase. Users can now lodge complaints in Europe rather than California, where the platforms are headquartered, and the companies will now treat consumers in a similar fashion as required of brick-and-mortar services.

But while the commission said the changes will benefit 250 million European users of the social media platforms, more must be done – especially by Facebook and Twitter.

Specifically, the commission said while Google has a protocol in place to deal with demands by national authorities to remove illegal content, both Facebook and Twitter have only agreed to set up an email address to receive takedown requests and have so far refused to commit to deadlines for dealing with such requests.

“As social media networks are used as advertising and commercial platforms, they must fully respect consumer rules. 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,” consumer commissioner Vera Jourova said in a statement. “However, it is unacceptable that this is still not complete and it is taking so much time. This confirms that we need a ‘New Deal for Consumers.’ EU consumer rules should be respected and if companies don’t comply, they should face sanctions.”

The commission plans to reveal the “New Deal for Consumers” in April.

In the meantime, the regulatory agency said its September 2017 order requiring the platforms to tackle illegal online content “swiftly and proactively” – and to prevent the reappearance of said content – must be implemented immediately.

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