European Union gives Facebook, Google, Twitter service term ultimatum

Social media firms must comply with EU laws- or face fines

The European union consumer authorities and organisations have received a growing number of complaints from consumers, who have been targeted by fraud or scams when using social media websites, as well as having been subject to certain terms of services that do not respect EU consumer law, the EU said.

Today's crackdown follows a letter sent to tech giants at the end of past year pointing out that the rules users sign up to when they use their services are not consistent with European law and need to be changed.

Concerns regarding the T&Cs include "requiring users to seek redress in court in California, where the companies are based, instead of their country of residence", as well as "not identifying sponsored content clearly", "requiring consumers to waive mandatory rights", and an "excessive power for the companies to determine the suitability of content generated by users". Following a meeting on 16 March, the EU consumer authorities, along with the European Commission, have given the social platforms one month to adhere to EU regulation. The discussions with the authorities were described as positive.

The authorities are being supported by the European Commission and could impose fines if they are not satisfied.

United States technology companies have faced tight scrutiny in Europe for the way they do business, from privacy to how quickly they remove illegal or hateful content.

A European Commission spokesperson told Reuters it would be taking action "to make sure social media companies comply with EU consumer rules".

Germany said this week it is working on a new law that would see social media sites face fines of up to $53 million if they failed to strengthen their efforts to remove illegal and offensive content.

"There must be as little space for criminal incitement and slander on social networks as on the streets", Mass said, emphasising that social media companies were now not doing enough to tackle a growing issue.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google-all of which are routinely blasted by regulators and lawmakers in Europe-have one month to submit proposals for how they plan to comply with the EU's demands. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.

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