Europeans are set to experience significant changes in their online life starting from August 25. The 27-nation European Union has implemented new regulations that affect major social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as tech giants like Google and Amazon. The Digital Services Act, a pioneering initiative, aims to safeguard European users’ privacy, transparency, and protection from harmful or illegal content.
One of the key changes is the ability for users to turn off AI-recommended videos. Currently, automated recommendation systems determine the content users see in their feeds based on their profiles. However, Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, has announced that users can opt out of its AI ranking and recommendation systems. Instead, users will have the option to view content only from the accounts they follow, starting with the newest posts. Similar changes will also be implemented on TikTok and Snapchat to prevent algorithmic recommendation systems from creating filter bubbles and promoting extreme content.
Furthermore, the new regulations will make it easier for users to flag harmful content. Platforms will provide users with improved reporting options to report posts, videos, or comments that violate laws or platform rules. TikTok, for example, has introduced an “additional reporting option” for users to report illegal content, including hate speech, harassment, and misinformation. Facebook and Instagram have also enhanced their reporting tools to make them more accessible to users.
Another significant change is the increased transparency of platforms’ content moderation. TikTok has pledged to provide European users with more detailed information about content moderation decisions, including whether they were made by automated technology. Google has stated that it will expand the scope of its transparency reports to offer more information about content moderation across multiple services.
In addition to content policing, the Digital Services Act also addresses the issue of counterfeit goods. Platforms like Amazon are implementing new channels for reporting suspected illegal products and providing more publicly available information about third-party merchants. Online fashion marketplace Zalando has emphasized that it already has a highly curated collection, minimizing the risk of illegal content.
Furthermore, the new regulations intend to protect children from targeted digital advertising. TikTok has restricted the types of data used to show ads to teenagers, and similar measures have been taken by Snapchat and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. Advertisers will now only be able to use age and location as data points to show ads to teenagers.
Overall, the Digital Services Act marks a significant shift in online regulations within the EU, aiming to provide users with more control, transparency, and protection from harmful content.