The European Commission requested on Friday that Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus alter their terms of service or face potential fines.
The Commission — the executive arm of the European Union — noted in a press release that their demands came amid increasing complaints from consumers who have been targeted by frauds and scams and that they had “been subject to certain terms of services that do not respect EU consumer law.”
“Given the growing importance of online social networks it is time to make sure that our strong EU rules, that are there to protect consumers from unfair practices, are complied with in this sector,” said Commissioner Věra Jourová. “It is not acceptable that EU consumers can only call on a court in California to resolve a dispute.”
The Commission specified two areas for the Silicon Valley tech companies to focus on as they adjusted their terms of service: “Unfair terms and conditions,” and “addressing fraud and scams that mislead consumers when using the social networks.” The Commission alleged that some of platforms’ existing terms of may be illegal.
Specified potential violations included allegedly not allowing users to cancel a contract, not providing means to withdraw online purchases and the platforms’ terms of service having “unlimited and discretionary” power to remove content.
Twitter and Facebook declined to comment. Google was not immediately available to offer comment.
The Commission has looked at American companies with more scrutiny in recent years. The Commission’s antitrust and competition unit has opened investigations on Google and Amazon. In August, the Commission handed Apple a $14.5 billion fine for receiving illegal state aid from Ireland.