From March onwards, EU citizens will be able to have recourse to courts in their respective countries in disputes with Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The American social media giants have altered their conditions of use to enable this, in compliance with European laws. Advocating this position on Thursday, the European Commission indicated that, however, there is still work to do for the companies to comply entirely with European Union law.
In March 2017, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ were encouraged by the European Commission, and national consumer protection authorities, to alter their general conditions of use to make them more favourable to European Union users, in compliance with EU laws.
As a result of the alterations by the three companies, it will now be possible for European Union users to have recourse to their respective national courts, if they have a problem with one such social network. Previously, Facebook for example, has forced its surfers to take action in the Californian courts, where it has its Menlo Park headquarters. Social networks are no longer prevented from taking advantage of the rights conferred by European law as regards consumer protection, and in the future will better identify both commercial communications and sponsored content.
However, there is still further progress to be made in this regard. Facebook and Twitter do not automatically notify users that their posted content will be deleted in given cases, and neither does Facebook explain how this decision may be appealed. Twitter equally does not clearly explain why it has decided to close a user’s account.
Vera Jourová, the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, says, “I am satisfied that the implementation by national authorities of European consumer protection laws is bearing fruit. At the same time, some companies are making their platforms safer for consumers. However, it is unacceptable that the work in this sphere is not yet finished, and that the task is taking so long to complete.”
The Brussels Times