EU Justice Commissioner Quits Facebook In Disgust, Doubles Down On Regulatory Threats

The European Commissioner for "justice, consumers and gender equality" abruptly closed her Facebook account this week, describing her account on the social media platform as a "channel of dirt" after she told a Brussels news conference that she received an "influx of hatred" on the network, reports Euractiv

Vera Jourová noted that her decision to leave Faebook was not to avoid criticism by the public - as her mailbox is already filled with critical comments. 

"I don’t want to avoid communication with people, even with critical people," she said, adding that she responds to critics who don't use vulgar language. "This is my nature, I speak to everybody who wants normal, honest, descent communication."

Jourová’s comments came as she announced that Facebook is also facing the prospect of heavy sanctions if it does not fall in line with EU consumer rules.

A February communication from the Commission informed Facebook that it needed to adjust how its users are informed of possible content removal and also said that its presentation of user contracts is not transparent enough. -Euractiv

"My patience has reached its limit," Jourová said.

"While Facebook assured me to finally adapt any remaining misleading terms of services by December, this has been ongoing for too long. It is now time for action and no more promises. If the changes are not fully implemented by the end of the year, I call on consumer authorities to act swiftly and sanction the company."

A spokesperson for Facebook said that the company's terms of service (ToS) were updated in April, which included the "majority" of changes proposed by the Commission. 

The Commission, however, said on Friday that Facebook's new ToS is "misleading." 

"Facebook now tells consumers that their data and content is used only to improve their overall ‘experience’ and does not mention that the company uses these data for commercial purposes," a statement from Jourová’s office read.

While Facebook may face the full force of the Commission’s punitive measures, AirBnB received more of a commendation from Jourová after the company committed to making the necessary changes in order to abide by EU consumer regulation.

These include making clear whether accommodation is offered by a private individual or a professional, as well as improving the transparency of prices in bookings so that users can more easily total cost of bookings, including additional fees such as service costs and cleaning charges.

AirBnb has until the end of this year to make the changes that they have committed to, on all EU language versions of their website. -Euractiv

EU consumer protection authorities have the ability to fine companies for breaking EU rules, and will do so in the case of Facebook and AirBnB if they have not "sufficiently complied with regulations," according to Euractiv. That said, the commission appears to have run out of patience. 

"I am becoming rather impatient," Jourová said.

"We have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years. Progress is not enough for me, I want to see the results."