Consumer rights in social media about to be strengthened

3/22/2017

The number of consumers who have been objects to scams on social media has increased. Now the European Commission has asked Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to comply to EU consumer rules. The companies have one month in which to bring forward proposals for change.

Young man with smart phone.

The number of complaints from European consumers who have been deceived, objects to scams or not got their consumer rights respected in social media has increased, the European Commission announces in a press release.

ECC Sweden has noticed an increase in this type of complaints. Consumers who contacted ECC Sweden has been affected by following consumer issues in social media:

  • Subscriptions Traps. In ads on social media, consumers are offered the chance to sign up for a free trial or order a free sample pack, but is given no information on what the offer means or costs. The offer then proves to be a subscription with monthly draws.
  • Counterfeits. Consumers have in social media said yes to offers on cheap deals on branded products. When they later receive the product, they notice that it is a counterfeit.
  • False campaigns. Consumers have jumped at social media campaigns such as "win a smartphone for one 1 €". When the consumer then check their bank account, it shows that the campaign is in fact a long-term subscription with monthly payments.

The companies will bring forward proposals within a month

On March 16 the EU consumer authorities and the European Commission, met with the social media companies Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to hear and discuss solutions on how to adapt to EU consumer rules. The companies have agreed to develop proposals on changes in two areas:

  • Terms of services. Companies should clarify unclear terms and remove illegal terms. For example, companies should not be able to prevent users from calling on a court of their own country if they want to pursue a case. Today, consumers are forced to turn to a court in California, where the companies have their headquarters.
  • Consumer protection on the platforms. The companies will develop measures on how to protect consumers from frauds and scams on the platforms. For example, find ways to identify and remove content that mislead consumers into buying counterfeits, fall in subscription traps or register for false campaigns.

The social media companies now have a month to complete a detailed action plan for how they will comply with the EU rules. The Commission and the consumer authorities will then review the proposals. If they are not satisfied with the proposals, consumer authorities ultimately resort to enforcement actions.

Got a consumer problem when using social media?

Have you been scammed into a purchase via social media? Does the trader not respond when you try to contact them or do they not respect not your consumer rights? Then you can contact ECC Sweden. If the trader is situated in another EU country, Norway or Iceland, we can help you.