First, the not-for-profit branch of Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org was accused of violating Net neutrality standards. But now, Zuckerberg’s pet project is the least of Facebook’s concerns, as the social media giant faces the wrath of the European Union, which is currently investigating whether Facebook’s privacy settings are in violation of the EU’s code.
“Platforms like Facebook have grown quickly to become global forces. But with that size comes responsibility.”
The company’s rapid expansion and enormous database of user data has raised significant questions regarding the legitimacy of Facebook’s practices, particularly when it comes to shutting out competition. The EU is growing increasingly skeptical, as Facebook attempts to keep its users in its ecosystem with the addition of more and more functionality to its platform, from messaging and advertising, to payments.
Facebook is by no means the first American tech company to be dinged for such practices, but unfortunately, Zuckerberg and his colleagues don’t seem to have learned from history. As the New York Times reports, Intel, Microsoft, and Google have all previously come under fire for violating strict European privacy laws and regulations. Seeing as Facebook handles a staggering amount of data, it comes as no surprise that it is just the latest in a long line of tech companies to be pulled into court (again).
In the last five years, Facebook’s presence in Europe has nearly doubled, and according to eMarketer, the social network now has more users in that region than in the United States. With Facebook’s recent purchase of the messaging service WhatsApp, many European watchdog organizations are calling foul play. The combination of Facebook Messenger with WhatsApp seemed to create a virtual monopoly on online and mobile messaging, they argued. Facebook won that particular battle, but it seems that the war is still brewing.
The latest case agains the Internet company examines the controversial use and collection of user data, which has always been a hotspot for debate. This time, if Facebook is found to have broken European protocol, the backlash will be severe, with the potential for hefty fines or even a change in policy. As Serafino Abate, a director at the Center on Regulation in Europe, told the Times, “Platforms like Facebook have grown quickly to become global forces. But with that size comes responsibility.”