Summits Yellow

Social media giants given one month to fix consumer rights in Europe, could face court

Tyrone Stewart

The EU has met with Facebook, Twitter and Google+ following complaints from consumers about fraud and scams on the social media websites, as well as certain terms and conditions that do not align with EU law.

The EU consumer authorities began the process of looking into the matters last November, when it sent a letter to the social media companies asking them to address the concerns. 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. If the proposals from the companies is unsatisfactory, the consumer authorities says it may seek ‘enforcement action’.

“Social media has become part of our daily lives and a majority of Europeans use it regularly. Given the growing importance of online social networks it is time to make sure that our strong EU rules, that are there to protect consumers from unfair practices, are complied with in this sector,” said Vera Jourová, European Union's commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality.

The social media platforms are required to bring their terms of services in line with European consumer law. This includes: not depriving consumers from going to court in their country of residence, not depriving consumers of their right to withdraw from an online purchase, and not limiting or excluding themselves from liability in regards to performance of service amongst other terms.

In addition, the platforms ‘must remove any fraud and scams appearing on their websites that could mislead consumers, once they become aware of such practices’. These practices include: scams involving payments consumers, subscription traps, marketing of counterfeited products, fake promotions, and more.

“It is not acceptable that EU consumers can only call on a court in California to resolve a dispute. Nor can we accept that users are deprived of their right to withdraw from an on-line purchase,” Jourová added. “Social media companies also need to take more responsibility in addressing scams and fraud happening on their platforms.

“I want to thank the EU consumer authorities who have worked tirelessly with the Commission on this important issue over the past months. From today, social media companies have one month to come up with solutions to comply with EU rules.”