Facebook, Google and Twitter may face fines by European consumer protection authorities

EU consumer authorities to take on Facebook Google Twitter

On 16 March 2017, EU consumer authorities and the European Commission met with these companies to hear and discuss their proposed solutions.

Having expressed concerned about privacy in Windows 10 and the scanning of Yahoo emails, the European Commission is now turning its attention to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. If those proposals don't satisfy the authorities, then they could take enforcement action, the Commission said.

European Union consumer authorities have been specifically looking into complaints about unfair terms and conditions, and looking for ways to tackle fraud and scams that mislead consumers when they are using the social networks - such as fake promotions to "win a smartphone for €1" that also sign the user up to a hidden long term subscription for hundreds of euros. The commission is concerned about a rising number of complaints from people who have fallen victim to scams on social media, and being subjected to terms and conditions that are incompatible with European law. Nor can we accept that users are deprived of their right to withdraw from an on-line purchase. The companies should not be able to grant themselves the right to remove content or change contract terms without notice. The EU has urged social media companies to do more when it comes to assessing the suitability of user generated content.

The companies have agreed to propose changes on two areas: Unfair terms and conditions; addressing fraud and scams that mislead consumers when using the social networks.

The Directive also requires that T&Cs be drafted in "plain and intelligible language" - to ensure consumers are informed in a clear and understandable manner about their rights. In this connection, national consumer protection authorities should have a direct and standardised communication channel to signal such wrongdoings to social media operators and obtain take down of content, as well as information concerning the traders responsible for the infringements.

Social media companies Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc and Twitter Inc will have to amend their terms of service for European users within a month or face the risk of fines, a European Commission official said on Friday.

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