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Facebook will be changing its terms of service following discussions with the European Commission

The changes will clarify how consumer data is used and remove confusing legalistic jargon.

Facebook will be updating its terms of service so that they clearly communicate how consumer data is being used. The changes will be implemented globally by June 2019 and come after discussions with the European Commission (EC) and consumer protection authorities.

The EC outlined the exact changes Facebook will be making to its terms of service in a fact sheet. Here’s a summary of how Facebook’s terms will be changing:

  1. Facebook will give users more detail on how their personal data is used in exchange for Facebook services. This will include clarifications of how Facebook makes money by providing targeted advertising services, the types of data it shares with advertisers, the types of data it does not share with advertisers, and the nature of its research activities.
  2. Facebook will give users more details on the permissions they’re giving to Facebook when they upload content to its services.
  3. Facebook will give users more details on when they will be notified of content removals and how they can appeal content removals.
  4. Facebook will limit its right to change its terms of service and will give users advanced warning of any changes, except when those changes are made to comply with legal provisions.
  5. Facebook will notify users when their account is suspended or terminated, except in specific cases such as when notifying a user about the termination could disrupt an ongoing law enforcement investigation.
  6. Facebook will reduce the clauses that apply to users after their accounts are terminated and inform users which clauses still apply after the termination.
  7. Facebook will clarify and justify the circumstances when content deleted by users may be temporarily retained and indicate that the maximum time for deleting users’ content due to technical reasons is 90 days.
  8. Facebook will clarify that it can be held liable when it does not act with due professional diligence. This liability can extend to its dealings with third parties.

The changes are the result of an EC campaign asking Facebook and other social media companies to do more to comply with EU consumer protection rules. This campaign led to discussions between Facebook, the EC, and consumer protection authorities where Facebook ultimately agreed to make these changes to its terms of service.

Facebook has committed to making the changes by the end of June 2019. The EC and consumer protection authorities will be monitoring Facebook’s implementation and if Facebook doesn’t fulfill its commitments, it could face sanctions from these groups.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook confirmed that these new terms of service will be rolling out to all users, not just those located in the EU.

These changes are part of a wider pattern of government pressure on big tech companies in 2019. Yesterday the UK government unveiled its Online Harms White Paper which will require social media firms to police the content on their platforms or face penalties. Articles 11 and 13 are also moving towards a final vote and if passed, would require online platforms to police content by using link taxes and upload filters.

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