Meta’s platforms hit with two more DSA investigations


The EU Commission starts probing platform’s measures to protect minors.

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Meta’s Facebook and Instagram are subject to two more investigations under the Digital Services Act (DSA) to check whether their measures to protect minors online are compliant with the platform rules, the European Commission said today (16 May).

The investigation focuses on the design of Facebook’s and Instagram’s online interfaces, which could “exploit the weaknesses and inexperience of minors and cause addictive behaviour”, the Commission said.

In addition, the probe will check Meta’s compliance with mitigation measures to prevent access by minors to inappropriate content and age-verification tools used by Meta, which may not be reasonable, proportionate and effective.

On top of that, the Commission will check if the platforms took appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure a high level of privacy, safety and security for minors overall.

“We have concerns that Facebook and Instagram may stimulate behavioural addiction and that the methods of age verification that Meta has put in place on their services is not adequate and will now carry on an in-depth investigation. We want to protect young people’s mental and physical health,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for the Digital Age said.

Challenge

A spokesperson for Meta told Euronews that protecting children online is an industry challenge. 

“We want young people to have safe, age-appropriate experiences online and have spent a decade developing more than 50 tools and policies designed to protect them. This is a challenge the whole industry is facing, and we look forward to sharing details of our work with the Commission,” the spokesperson said. 

The probe comes after analysing the risk assessment report sent by Meta last September, and the replies to earlier formal Commission requests for information, the EU executive said.

There is no fixed time for when the investigations announced today need to be concluded, an EU official said at a press briefing.

“It depends on how cooperative the platform is, we have no reason to assume they have any reason to not be cooperative. Regarding the protection of minors; we will go as fast as possible, but today is just the first step,” the official said.

Facebook and Instagram were hit with a separate probe into their tools to combat disinformation on 30 April. 

TikTok

The investigations come as the Commission last month (22 April) opened a similar probe into TIkTok after the social media platform launched its TikTok Lite app in France and Spain.

The EU executive had quizzed the video sharing app about its potential impact on the mental health of users, in particular in relation to the potential stimulation of addictive behaviour. In response, TikTok said it will voluntarily stop the roll-out of Lite for the time being.

In an interview with Euronews published today, John Evans, the digital services commissioner at Irish media regulator Coimisiún na Meán, said that there is no grace period for online platforms to comply with the DSA.

Dublin is home to 13 of the 23 Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and search engines that are so far designated by the Commission under the DSA, including Google, TikTok and Meta.

“If we detect a breach, we need to go after that immediately, that’s the strategy,” Evans said. 

This story has been updated to include a Meta comment.



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2024-05-16 10:18:14

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