European Commission takes action against Meta under the Digital Services Act

May 21, 2024

The European Commission has opened formal proceedings to assess if Meta (Facebook/Instagram) may have breached the Digital Services Act with regards to the protection of minors.

The Commission is concerned that Facebook and Instagram’s systems, including their algorithms, may promote behavioural addictions in children, as well as create so-called ‘rabbit-hole effects’. In addition, the Commission is also concerned about the age-assurance and verification methods that Meta has put in place.

The proceedings address the following area:

  • Meta’s compliance with DSA obligations to assess and mitigate risks caused by the design of Facebook’s and Instagram’s online interfaces, which may exploit the weaknesses and inexperience of minors and cause addictive behaviour, and/or reinforce so-called “rabbit hole” effect. The Commission says that this assessment is required to support the physical and mental well-being of children as well as respecting their rights.
  • Meta’s compliance with DSA requirements in relation to the mitigation measures to prevent access by minors to inappropriate content, notably age-verification tools used by Meta, which the Commission thinks may not be reasonable, proportionate and effective.
  • Meta’s compliance with DSA obligations to put in place appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure a high level of privacy, safety and security for minors, particularly with regard to default privacy settings for minors as part of the design and functioning of their recommender systems.

If proven, the alleged breaches would constitute infringements of Articles 28, 34, and 35 of the DSA. The opening of formal proceedings does not prejudge its outcome, and is without prejudice to any other proceedings that the Commission may decide to initiate on any other conduct that may constitute an infringement under the DSA.

Next steps

The Commission will now carry out an in-depth investigation as a matter of priority and will continue to gather evidence, for example by sending additional requests for information, conducting interviews or inspections. The opening of formal proceedings means that the Commission may take further enforcement steps, such as adopting interim measures and non-compliance decisions. The Commission may also accept commitments made by Meta to remedy the issues raised in the proceedings.