Changes to Facebook Messaging Services in Europe

By Aura Salla, Public Policy Director, Head of EU Affairs

Starting today, the data privacy and security protections in the 2002 Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive (ePrivacy Directive) will apply to more communications services across the EU. The laws implementing the ePrivacy Directive will apply to messaging and calling services and limit the ways companies can use messaging and calling data.

People using our messaging and calling services in Europe or interacting with friends and family in Europe may notice some changes to features on Messenger, Instagram and Facebook. In order to comply with the law, we needed to adjust the way our services work, such as further segregating messaging data from other parts of our infrastructure. Our goal is to make sure people can continue to connect privately while minimizing disruption. We prioritized core features, like text messaging and video calling, and have made sure the majority of our other features are available. However, some advanced features like polls that require the use of message content to work may be disrupted as we make changes to align with the new privacy rules. We’re working to bring back features that we can as quickly as possible, and our Help Center has updates for some of the features that are affected.

The ePrivacy Directive also prohibits messaging and calling services from using data to prevent, detect and respond to child abuse material and other forms of harm. The European Commission and child safety experts have said that the directive does not provide a legal basis for these tools. The safety of our community is paramount, and we are advocating for changes that will allow us to resume our efforts to identify this type of material. This includes analyzing messaging metadata to identify patterns of abuse — an approach we believe can help keep our community safe while respecting the privacy of people’s message content. For example, we use metadata to share safety notices, identify potentially harmful accounts and protect children. 

We look forward to working together with European policymakers and other stakeholders to achieve both privacy and safety. Moreover, we hope that initiatives like Project Protect can create a common approach that protects privacy and keeps people safe online.

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