DSA: Meta apps are getting chronological feeds in Europe

22 Aug 2023

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The tech giant is giving European users the option to turn off personalised content, in a bid to become compliant with the EU’s Digital Services Act.

Meta has revealed some new features for European users of Facebook and Instagram, in a bid to be compliant with upcoming EU regulation.

The new features will allow European users of these platforms to turn off personalised content. This is when the content a user sees is tailored to suit their personal interests, usually based on algorithmic data.

Meta is bringing in the option to turn off personalisation in response to the Digital Services Act (DSA), the landmark batch of EU rules that aim tackle illegal content online and impose new rules on larger companies.

The DSA is going to fully apply to larger companies like Meta later this month. These designated companies – known as very large online platforms (VLOPs) – have to follow various rules on issues such as content moderation, tackling disinformation and transparency for users.

Nick Clegg, president of Meta’s global affairs division, said the new options for Facebook and Instagram will give “additional transparency” and give users more options to tailor what they see on these sites.

If personalisation is switched off, Clegg said users will see content in chronological order rather than seeing results tailored to them based on AI rankings and recommendations.

“They will also be able to view search results based only on the words they enter, rather than personalised specifically to them based on their previous activity and personal interests,” Clegg said.

These measures are part of a range of adjustments being made ahead of the DSA. Other measures include making reporting tools easier for users to find so they can notify Meta about illegal content they see.

Other tech companies are also working to become compliant with the DSA before the end of the month. Earlier this month, TikTok announced a similar adjustment to personalised content options in response to the DSA.

Amazon recently challenged its designation as a VLOP. The company claimed it has been “unfairly singled out” and that the VLOP label will force it to meet “onerous administrative obligations”.

Reacting to EU regulation

In a blogpost, Clegg said Meta is supportive of the new measures and that it has been “working hard” to be DSA-compliant since it came into force last November.

“We assembled one of the largest cross-functional teams in our history, with over 1,000 people currently working on the DSA, to develop solutions to the DSA’s requirements,” Clegg said. “Meta has long advocated for a harmonised regulatory regime that effectively protects people’s rights online, while continuing to enable innovation.”

The tech giant has faced several issues with EU regulation in the past however, most notably around GDPR. Last month, Meta suffered a blow to its data collection practices in a top European court.

This case ruled against Meta’s defence for its advertising practices, in a decision that could give EU watchdogs more authority to investigate future GDPR breaches.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic