Saturday 18th August 2018

EU: social media companies must do more to comply with EU rules

Jason Smith
by on 15th February 2018

The European Union released a statement today to remind Facebook, Google and Twitter that they must do more to comply with requests made by the European Commission.

Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, has stated she’s pleased with progress however she also believes “it is unacceptable that this is still not complete and it is taking so much time.”

The press release makes specific reference to two areas where Facebook and Twitter are failing to implement rules at a pace deemed suitable by the EU: their liability and clarification on how users will be informed if their contract with the network is terminated or their content is removed.

The EU also deems the measures implement by the three social media companies around dealing with illegal content posted on their networks are insufficient.

While Google+ appears to have complied by establishing a protocol with deadlines relating to when action will be taken on requests to remove illegal content, Facebook and Twitter have only provided an email address for national authorities to contact if they come across any infringements and haven’t specified any deadlines relating to how long it will take for content to be removed.

In other words, neither organisation has committed to any specific timeframe for removing illegal content hosted on their servers.

Within the common position sent to Google+, Facebook and Twitter in 2016, the EU also states that each network must provide consumers and “competent authorities” with “adequate contact information, including an email address…so that they can be contacted rapidly and communicated with in a direct and effective manner”.

The common position highlights a number of practices on social media websites which breach EU Directives, including:

  • Consumers being offered subscriptions through a free trial without being provided with sufficient information;
  • Marketing of counterfeited products;
  • Scams involving taking payment from customers

Following the initial “enforcement action” in 2016, the social media companies have agreed to implement changes to their terms of service, including amending provisions in their existing TOS depriving consumers of their right to go to courts in their own member state and terms which waivered EU consumers’ rights to withdraw from an online purchase.

The release states that these changes will be implemented in the first quarter of 2018. A full overview of all the requested changes can be found here.