Consumer protectionCommission ask social media companies to continue improving compliance with EU consumer rules

Last Thursday, the European Commission and other EU consumer authorities published the changes made by Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to align their terms of services with EU consumer protection rules. As a result, the Commission urges social media companies to make further changes to comply with EU consumer rules.

Following numerous consumer complaints, an enforcement action was launched in November 2016 providing for changes to be implemented in the first quarter of 2018. With this, social media operators specifically agreed to amend the following:

  • terms of services that limit or totally exclude the liability of social media networks in connection with the performance of the service

  • terms requiring consumers to waive mandatory EU consumer rights

  • terms depriving consumers of their right to go to court in their member state of residence

  • term releasing the platform from the duty to identify commercial communications and sponsored content

These actual changes can be summarized so far:

  • EU consumers do not have to waive their mandatory EU consumer rights anymore, that is they can exercise their right to withdraw from online purchases.

  • User complaints can now be filed in Europe – not necessarily only where the company's headquarter is located, e.g. in California.

  • Social media platforms will take up their fair share of responsibilities towards EU consumers, similarly to the off-line service providers.

  • However, Facebook and especially Twitter did not address important issues about their liability and about how users are informed of possible content removal or contract termination.

  • Moreover, regarding the "notice and action procedure" used by consumer protection authorities to report and request the removal of illegal content, the changes by some companies are considered insufficient.

Vera Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, noted: "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; 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."

Source: European Commission

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