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Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and more: the European Union imposes reinforced controls

The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Therry Breton, listed 19 giants that must abide by stricter rules.

The European Union (EU) published on Tuesday a list of 19 digital platforms with millions of users, including giants like Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, which will have to undergo reinforced controls from the end of August.

The main services from Amazon, Google, Meta and Microsoft also appear on the list, all with more than 45 million active users per month in the 27 EU countries as a whole.

Due to the new regulations, these companies must submit to annual audits and respect procedures to deal with misinformation and hate speech.

“The countdown has started for these 19 very large online platforms and search engines,” said European Internal Market Commissioner Therry Breton.

Companies that do not comply with the law after August 25 will have to pay fines that could reach 6% of their global income and would even be liable to face a temporary prohibition to be able to operate in the European space.

The EU adopted two markedly strict laws, one on Digital Services (LSD) and the other on Digital Markets (LMD), in its desire to bring order to the operations of digital giants in the European space.

The LSD, which entered into force in November, defines a threshold of 45 million users per year to distinguish between platforms those that due to their size are considered “systemic” and require special observation.

It also establishes a difference between “Very Large Online Platforms” (VLOP) and “Very Large Online Search Engines” (VLOSE).

Search engines, platforms, networks

The affected companies AFP photo

The search engines included in the list are Google Search and Bing.

In the case of Google, the rule affects special services such as Google Search, Google Maps, Google Shopping and Google Play, as well as YouTube.

Also classified as giant companies are the professional network LinkedIn, the store (App Store) from iOS, from Apple, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the messaging service Snapchat and the thematic board platform Pinterest.

Most of these are companies based in the United States, although it includes the video platform TikTok and the online store AliExpress, both from China, as well as the German firm Zalando, which sells online clothing.

The hotel and ticket reservation site Booking was also included.

These firms must expose their operating algorithms to experts from the European Commission (executive arm of the EU) and will have to make their data available to selected EU-backed researchers.

“This new monitoring system casts a wide net to detect compliance failures by parts of the platforms,” ​​said Therry Breton.

The European official was pleased that Twitter has agreed to undergo a compliance test that will take place “at the end of June” in San Francisco.

He added that TikTok has also expressed an interest in cooperating to ensure compliance with European standards.

According to Breton, between “four and five” other platforms could be added to the list. “in the coming weeks,” but offered no details.

Elon Musk (Twitter), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Sundar Pichai (Google) and Mark Suckerberg (Facebook-Meta).  Photo File

Elon Musk (Twitter), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Sundar Pichai (Google) and Mark Suckerberg (Facebook-Meta). Photo File

These rules, which are imposed only on very large platforms, are added to those already provided for all social networks, marketplaces and search engines, whatever their size.

The rules that are imposed on all digital actors will enter into force on February 17, 2024. They include the obligation to quickly remove illegal content and to report to the authorities in the event of a “serious criminal offense.”

A TikTok spokesperson assured that the company “has supported the objectives of the regulation” and for several months we have been working on the implementation of the regulations.

According to that source, “more than 125 million people across the EU come to TikTok every month.” For its part, a Google spokesperson pointed out that the digital giant shares the interest of the legislation “to make the Internet even more secure, transparent and responsible”.

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