Europe's sweeping rules for tech giants kick in

Europe's sweeping rules for tech giants kick in

Europes sweeping rules for tech giants kick in

Starting on Aug. 25, Europeans will see their online life change

People in the 27-nation European Union can alter some of what shows up when they search, scroll and share on the biggest social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook and other tech giants like Google and Amazon.

That's because Big Tech companies, most headquartered in the U.S., are now subject to a pioneering new set of EU digital regulations.

The Digital Services Act aims (DSA) to protect European users when it comes to privacy, transparency and removal of harmful or illegal content.

Automated recommendation systems decide, based on people's profiles, what they see in their feeds. Those can be switched off.

Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram, said users can opt out of its artificial intelligence ranking and recommendation systems that determine which Instagram Reels, Facebook Stories and search results to show. Instead, people can choose to view content only from people they follow, starting with the newest posts.

Search results will be based only on the words they type, not personalized based on a user's previous activity and interests, Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said in a blog post.

Turning off recommender systems also means the video-sharing platform’s “Following” and “Friends” feeds will show posts from accounts users follow in chronological order.

Algorithmic recommendation systems based on user profiles have been blamed for creating so-called filter bubbles and pushing social media users to increasingly extreme posts.

Users should find it easier to report a post, video or comment that breaks the law or violates a platform's rules so that it can be reviewed and taken down if required.

TikTok has started giving users an “additional reporting option” for content, including advertising, that they believe is illegal. To pinpoint the problem, people can choose from categories such as hate speech and harassment, suicide and self-harm, misinformation or frauds and scams.

The EU wants platforms to be more transparent about how they operate.

Google said it’s “expanding the scope” of its transparency reports by giving more information about how it handles content moderation for more of its services, including Search, Maps, Shopping and Play Store, without providing more details.

The DSA is not just about policing content. It’s also aimed at stopping the flow of counterfeit Gucci handbags, pirated Nike sneakers and other dodgy goods.

Amazon says it has set up a new channel for reporting suspected illegal products and content and also is providing more publicly available information about third-party merchants.

Brussels wants to crack down on digital ads aimed at children over concerns about privacy and manipulation. Some platforms already started tightening up ahead of Aug. 25's deadline, even beyond Europe.

TikTok said in July that it was restricting the types of data used to show ads to teens. Users who are 13 to 17 in the EU, plus Britain, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein no longer see ads “based on their activities on or off TikTok.”

Snapchat is restricting personalized and targeted advertising to users under 18.

Meta in February stopped showing Facebook and Instagram users who are 13 to 17 ads based on their activity, such as following certain Instagram posts or Facebook pages. Now, age and location are the only data points advertisers can use to show ads to teens.

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