EU Cracks Down on Consumer Rights Violations on Social Media

March 20, 2017 - 2 minutes read

In this era of “fake news,” hateful trolling, and increasing privacy concerns, the negative aspects of social networking have never been more clear. While social media app developers scramble to address these issues, governments around the world are becoming more involved with proposed laws and regulations designed to turn up the heat on the major social networking companies.

This past Thursday, European Union consumer authorities and the European Commission met with Facebook, Google, and Twitter to discuss potential solutions for consumer rights complaints that have been rolling in with alarming frequency. There are two primary areas of concern: the seemingly deliberate obscurity of the language in terms and conditions and the scams and fraud that are rampant on the platforms. These social media app developers have been given one month to make the changes necessary to meet the standard set by European consumer protection laws.

The social media giants will have to adjust their terms of service agreements so that balance is restored in favor of the consumer. Among other things, this means that terms and conditions can no longer limit or exclude the liability of the social networking platforms, consumers must be able to back out of unwanted online purchases, and sponsored content must be clearly identified. Social networking app developers are also being asked to remove scams, subscription traps, sham promotions, and marketing for counterfeit products.

It will be interesting to mobile app developers in London and all over the world to see how the biggest players in social media handle the EU’s demands. At this point, social networking platforms are inextricably and irreversibly intertwined in our lives. They don’t just connect us to family and friends– they are one of the primary windows through which we view the world. The Wild West days of platforms like Facebook are surely over, but it remains to be seen how their more questionable policies and lawless corners will be regulated. Will the changes come largely from the social media app developers themselves? Or will they come from the governments of the world?

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