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24th Oct 2020

Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU

  • Twitter and Facebook are not respecting consumer protection rules in the EU, says the European Commission (Photo: Tom Raftery)

The European Commission is demanding that US-based social media giants Facebook and Twitter fully respect European consumer protection laws.

The demand is part of a list of consumer complaints filed last March against the two, including Google+, for broadly failing to meet EU rules when it comes to tackling online scams, removing content, and allowing people to delete accounts.

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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". Only Google+ appears to have complied with the demands.

In a statement, EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova said it was "unacceptable" that Facebook and Twitter are yet to make their platforms safer for people.

"EU consumer rules should be respected and if companies don't comply, they should face sanctions," she said. Only national authorities can impose sanctions such as fines.

Many of the complaints stem from people in Europe who have been victims of fraud, unwanted subscriptions and other online scams.

National consumer protection authorities want to make it easier to report and request the removal of such scams, but Facebook and Twitter have only provided them with an email address.

The commission says the standards need to be met to protect certain rights, like being able to withdraw from an online purchase, or lodge complaints in Europe rather than in the United States where the firms are based.

The pressure comes amid other plans to get the firms to be more proactive in removing illegal content.

In April, the commission is set to unveil a so-called 'New Deal for Consumers.'

The move is a follow up to a proposal floated last September, and aims to get companies to remove xenophobic and racist speech or anything deemed to incite terrorism.

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