Digital Services Act goes into effect, imposing stricter standards on social media in EU

From Friday, the 19 largest internet platforms and search engines operating in Europe will have to comply with tougher European rules as the Digital Services Act comes into force. The new legislation aims to better protect users from digital abuses such as disinformation and social media algorithms. What changes will users notice?

The most visible change will be the timelines displayed on social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or TikTok. Posts, photos, videos, reels or other content on these timelines are displayed based on a profile created by algorithms or artificial intelligence - using a user's data, searches or interests. These timelines will not disappear, but users should now be able to turn off the algorithm. The EU is introducing this rule because the algorithm causes social media users to end up in an "echo chamber", where their existing beliefs are simply fed back to them.

Chronological overview

If the algorithm is turned off, the timeline would simply be a chronological overview of the users or pages someone follows. In addition, users on Facebook and Instagram will only see search results based on the words they type in, rather than their search history. On TikTok, users will be shown a selection of popular videos based on their location rather than their viewing habits.

Personalised advertising aimed at adults will also be restricted. For example, companies will no longer be allowed to use data such as religion, political affiliation or sexual orientation to suggest ads. Minors, in particular, should no longer see personalised ads based on any data that internet companies have collected about them.

Hate speech

It should also be easier to report messages, images or comments that break the rules. This includes hate speech or harassment, as well as posts inciting suicide or self-harm, disinformation or fraud. Internet companies also need to be more transparent about how they moderate their platforms. If a post is removed, the company should tell the user exactly why it was removed.

The legislation also affects web shops such as Zalando, Amazon and Alibaba. They will have to better monitor their sites to ensure that no illegal counterfeit products are for sale on their platforms, and it should be easier to report these products.

In November 2022, Twitter, now rebranded as X, closed its Brussels offices in protest against the Digital Services Act. The move raised concerns about the company's ability to comply with the EU's strict new guidelines.




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