Facebook under fire in Europe for lack of transparency over data practices

facebook data practices france netherlands tablet
Facebook has come under intense scrutiny by European lawmakers for failing to keep customers adequately informed about the many ways in which the social media giant reportedly uses individuals’ data. Now, officials in France and the Netherlands are citing the company for breaching their respective information protection laws, according to a report from The New York Times.

France’s data privacy body, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, issued Facebook a fine of 150,000 euros, or about $167,000, for collecting “a massive compilation of personal data of internet users in order to display targeted advertising.” The ruling also mentioned the company’s practice of monitoring non-users on third-party websites.

The decision from the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) echoed that sentiment, but went into greater detail.

“The Facebook Group uses sensitive personal data from users without their explicit consent,” a statement on the DPA’s website reads. “For example, data relating to sexual preferences were used to show targeted advertisements.”

According to the DPA, Facebook has ended the particular practice of using individuals’ sexual identity for marketing purposes, but if “other violations,” which were left unnamed in the announcement are not similarly dealt with, the government has threatened to issue a fine.

French officials, by contrast, have not instructed Facebook as to how it should change its practices.

Facebook maintains it has consistently adhered to European Union privacy laws, which are quite different from American regulations and, in some cases, much more stringent — especially with regard to the internet.

For example, under European law, any company that collects data on you online for any purpose must hand over a copy of their records to you at your request. Many larger social media firms, like Facebook and Twitter, offer to share their information with users if asked, but U.S. law does not require them to do so.

There’s also the much-publicized “right to be forgotten” decision, which means that European citizens can ask search engines like Google and Bing to remove links to incriminating articles about them, to avoid being perpetually punished for an action or incident in the past that has been deemed no longer relevant. U.S. law provides no such protections.

Facebook is also reportedly being monitored in other countries, particularly in Germany, for facilitating the spread of fake news and hate speech. Two weeks ago, the company took out a series of ads in a U.K. newspaper warning readers of the spread of misinformation in the run up to the country’s June 8 general election.


How to

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Social Media

Hotel chain offers an Instagram ‘sitter’ who will post photos for you

If the pressure to post stunning Instagram photos is ruining your vacations, then how about hiring a local Instagram influencer to do the job for you while you go off and enjoy yourself? Well, such a service now exists.
Social Media

Ride the rails and share your stories with Amtrak’s new social media residency

Amtrak is looking for travel fans with a knack for telling stories on social media. The new Amtrak social media residency program wants amateur travelers to share photos, video, and written content from aboard long-distance trips.
Social Media

Hangouts isn’t being hung out to dry in 2020, Google says

According to a report, Google may shut down Google Hangouts by 2020. While Hangouts was once Google's top-tier messaging app, the app has since been neglected in favor of Android Messages.
Social Media

Tumblr bans nudity to create ‘a safe place for creative expression’

Tumblr will soon no longer allow images with adult content. The company says the change is one that's designed to help more creators feel comfortable sharing on the platform, but admits the change won't happen overnight.
Social Media

Members can share the same Story with Facebook’s new Group Stories

Facebook Group members can now view and share Group Stories. Unlike the Stories for an individual user, the new tool allows members to contribute to the same Group Story, if the feature isn't turned off by an admin.
Social Media

You can now share saved Facebook posts with a Pinterest-like collection tool

Facebook collections can now be shared with friends if you also want to allow them to contribute to the list. Facebook is rolling out an update that allows users to add a contributor to their collections, or lists of saved Facebook posts.

Broadway actor tells Kanye West to get off his phone during opening night

Theater actors can get understandably upset when they spot someone in the audience fiddling with their phone instead of watching the show. The other night that audience member was Kanye West, and he got called out for it.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.