Navigating your way around the internet may seem intuitive if you have grown up with access to it most of your life, but for those who are just beginning to use social media platforms, it can be hard to detect scam from the constant stream of information.
The European Commission (EU) has taken a step to prevent these types of web-based consumer fraud, ordering companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to address and prevent them from appearing on their websites.
The EU defines addressing the issue in 2 parts. First, the sites would have to clarify their terms of services to better protect users from scams.
This, in practice, means social media networks “cannot require consumers to waive mandatory rights, such as their right to withdraw from an on-line purchase,” and sponsored content should be easily identifiable, the EU said.
Furthermore, “terms of services cannot limit or totally exclude the liability of social media networks in connection with the performance of the service.”
The EU also ordered these social networks to remove fraudulent posts that can mislead consumers. The examples are listed below:
- Subscription traps where consumers are offered to register for a free trial but are not given clear and sufficient information
- Scams involving payments taken from consumers
- Fake promotions like “win a smartphone for 1 €” have proliferated over social media which were, in fact, a true contest but entailing hidden long-term subscriptions for several hundred euros per year
- Marketing of counterfeited products
The EU said it has met with all 3 companies and will give them 1 month to propose solutions that comply with its regulatory framework or risk legal action.