Social media sites’ new terms fall short of meeting EU consumer protection rules

VINCENT JANNINK

(FILE) - The Google logo during the opening of the new Google data center in Eemshaven, The Netherlands, 06 December 2016 (reissued 27 June 2017). The European Commission on 27 June 2017 said it would fine the Google with 2.4 billion euros for abusing its dominance as a search engine.

The social media companies released their new terms of service today in an effort to align with EU consumer protection rules.


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Social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ released on February 15 their new terms of service, which are designed to better align with EU consumer protection rules. The changes have been greeted with enthusiasm in Brussels, but still fall short of fully complying with the European Union’s strict regulations.

The platforms can no longer force EU consumers to waive their mandatory EU consumer rights. Consumers can also now lodge complaints in Europe instead of the US, where the majority of social media companies are based.

While some of these new terms align with EU regulations, they do not completely fulfil all of the bloc’s legal requirements. Vera Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said the social media networks need to better respect consumer protection rights.

“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. It is unacceptable, however, that this is still not fully resolved and it is taking so much time,” said Jourová.

Jourová also said there needs to be a framework, or “a new deal”, to ensure that companies who don’t comply with the rules face severe sanctions.

According to the EU Commission, Google has been the most compliant with the bloc’s demands. Facebook and Twitter have only partially addressed important issues about liability and the manner in which users are informed of possible content removal or contract termination.

The companies are committed to implementing the changes on their terms by the first quarter of 2018.

The Commission will monitor all changes to the notice and action procedure that allows consumer protection authorities to report and request the removal of illegal content. The Commission wants the companies to do more to fully comply with the EU’s consumer protection regulations.

See below for the complete list of changes:

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