Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, have spent the last several days threatening to blackout their social media platforms in Europe if the European Union continues to push for stricter regulations on users data. How likely is it that Meta will go through with their pullout, especially after the social media giant's value plunged by about $237 billion — the biggest one-day loss for a publicly traded company in stock market history last week ?
The last several months have been hectic for the tech giant once known as Facebook. Back on October 28th, 2021 the company changed its name citing concerns that their brand was too tightly linked to one product and did not represent all the company had to offer, both presently and in the future . The company was quickly mocked for the change , not to mention immediately inviting a lawsuit from a Chicago based tech company, MetaCompany, who allege Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole their name .
The company faces a war on several fronts after losing $200 billion in value in a single day, dropping daily user numbers, and contninued calls from both the right and left for greater transparency. Now the fight for the company's future has pivoted to the Old World as Meta threatens to pull out of the EU countries all together.
The EU has passed several protection packages which have aimed at making Europe fit for the digital age. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which governs how personal data of individuals in the EU may be processed and transferred, went into effect on May 25, 2018. GDPR is a comprehensive privacy legislation that applies across sectors and to companies of all sizes .
On July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued a judgment declaring as “invalid” the European Commission’s Decision (EU) 2016/1250 of 12 July 2016 on the adequacy of the protection provided by the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. As a result of that decision, the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework is no longer a valid mechanism to comply with EU data protection requirements when transferring personal data forcing the EU and US to begin negotiations on a new policy . The EU wants to increase the regulation of data transfers between the EU, US and beyond. Meta hopes to steer negotiations with the EU towards loosened control.
In Meta’s annual report for the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they included a section wherein a scenario was outlined where Meta would discontinue Facebook and Instagram in Europe if no compromise on data regulations is reached.
How likely is Meta to go through with the threat? Not very. In a statement reported on around the web, Facebook's parent firm Meta said Monday it has no plans to pull its services from Europe, after raising the possibility amid an ongoing row over transferring European data to the United States . However, this flies directly in the face of Meta's above mentioned SEC filing wherein they stated "If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted... we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe."
If a deal isn't reached soon Facebook and Instagram may find themselves taking advantage of the Right to Be Forgotten in the EU and suffering the consequences of the same.