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New Data Transfer Agreement Will Ensure That Facebook and Instagram Remain Operational in Europe

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Social Media Fuels Division and Angst – But Solving the Underlying Issues at Play is Hugely Complex


So it seems like Facebook and Instagram won’t be shut down in Europe after all.

As you may recall, early last month, there was a sudden burst of speculation around the future of Meta’s apps in Europe after Meta shared this note in an update to the SEC:

“In August 2020, we received a preliminary draft decision from the Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC) that preliminarily concluded that Meta Platforms Ireland’s reliance on Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) in respect of European user data does not achieve compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and preliminarily proposed that such transfers of user data from the European Union to the United States should therefore be suspended. If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted and we are unable to continue to rely on SCCs or rely upon other alternative means of data transfers from Europe to the United States, we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”

As we noted at the time, this is not new – the EU privacy regulator sent Meta a preliminary order back in 2020 ordering the suspension of data transfers to the US, in line with GDPR provisions. Meta’s been working towards a solution ever since, but it noted this in its SEC guidance (which it had also noted in several of its SEC notes previously) to ensure full transparency on risk.

But this time, maybe due to the wording, reporting ramped up, and Meta was forced to issue an official response, saying that it hasno desire to withdraw from Europe”

Now, it seems like it will be a non-issue anyway, with the President of the EU Commission announcing that a new, preliminary agreement on transatlantic data flows has been established in the US.

So all that panic was for nothing – though there was, of course, a risk that Meta could have been cut off, and that its services could have been removed from the EU, if such an agreement could not be reached.

Then again, the coverage at the time suggested that many Europeans were not overly phased by the concept of a Facebook-free world, with many seemingly welcoming the change, if it were to come.

As reported by Bloomberg:

“After being hacked I’ve lived without Facebook and Twitter for four years and life has been fantastic,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at an event alongside French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in Paris on Monday. “I can confirm that life is very good without Facebook and that we would live very well without Facebook,” Le Maire added.”

In some ways, it would be interesting to see what things are like without Facebook and Instagram, as a measure of their true impact. But then again, many people are now reliant on these services, both for business and personal needs, so there would be negative consequences along with the perceived, theoretical benefits.

It’s all academic anyway, because it seems like Facebook will remain online for Europeans for the foreseeable future as this new agreement is put in place.

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Europeans, you can either relax, or lament what could have been, dependent on your perspective.





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Elon Musk’s Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots

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Elon Musk's Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots

Okay, let’s just check in on the latest with the Twitter/Elon Musk takeover saga, and where things are placed to close out the week.

According to the latest reports, Musk’s team recently asked Twitter for more tweet info, in order to help it make an accurate assessment of bot activity in the app. This comes after Musk questioned Twitter’s claim that bots and fake accounts make up only 5% of its active user base, and said that his Twitter takeover deal could not go ahead unless Twitter could produce more evidence to support this figure.

Which Twitter did, by providing Musk with access to its ‘full firehose’ of tweets over a given period, which it shared with Musk’s team back on June 8th. Musk’s group has now had that data for a couple of weeks, but this week, it said that this info is not enough to go on, and that it needs even more insight from Twitter to make its judgment.

And after initially resisting calls for more data access, Twitter has now reportedly relented and handed over more tweet data access to Musk’s team.

Which may or may not be a concern, depending on how you see it.

In its initial data dump, Twitter reportedly gave Musk’s team info on:

  • Total user tweets (within a given time period)
  • Data on which devices were used

As noted, Musk’s team says that this has not provided it with the insight that it needs to conduct an accurate analysis of potential bot activity, so Twitter has now provided Musk with more ‘real-time API data’.

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It’s not clear whether that means that Twitter has provided everything that its API systems can provide, but that could mean that Musk’s team can now access:

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  • Real-time info on tweet text and visual elements/attachments
  • Data on retweets, replies, and quote Tweets for each
  • Data on tweet author, mentioned users, tagged locations, hashtag and cashtag symbols, etc
  • Date, time, location, device info

That should satisfy any analytical needs to uncover potential bot trends, and get a better handle on Twitter’s bot problem, though it also means that Musk has all your tweet info – which, again, it’s worth noting, Twitter up till now had been hesitant to provide.

I’m sure it’s fine. Musk’s team is beholden to disclosure laws around such, so it’s not like they can do anything much with that info anyway, in a legal sense. But the idea that the sometimes erratic Elon Musk now has all the tweets could be a little concerning for some.

But Twitter likely had to provide what it can, and if Musk is going to become CEO of the app soon anyway, he’s going to have access to all of that data either way.

But still, given Musk and Co’s past history of undermining and attacking critics, sacking trouble maker employees and digging up potential dirt on rivals, it sits a little uneasy.

Should be fine. No problems – no need to go deleting all your DMs (which are likely not included in the data that Twitter has provided at this stage).

According to reports, Musk’s team says that it now has the info it needs to make its assessment of bot activity, which should see the deal move forward (or not) sometime soon.

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Of course, no one knows what exactly is going to happen next, and whether Musk’s team will look to renegotiate, or even back out of the deal entirely as a result of its bot analysis. But it does seem like, one way or another, Musk will be forced to go ahead with the $44 billion transaction, with Twitter’s past bot reporting methodology already accepted by the SEC, giving it legal grounding to argue that it’s acted in good faith, regardless of what Musk’s team finds.

The next steps then, according to Musk, would be securing debt financing and gaining Twitter shareholder approval, clearing the last hurdles for Musk to change the app’s name to ‘Telsla Social’, and add a million references to ‘420’ into the platforms various terms and conditions.

Because of the memes, because weed jokes are still funny to the richest man in the world – because he vacillates between inspired genius and a massive nerd who now gets to play out some fantasy of being cool.

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Or something. Who knows what goes on in Elon Musk’s head – which is also why most are hesitant to bet against him, as nobody knows if and how he might be able to fix Twitter, and whether this is a great investment or a massive disaster.

It seems like we may soon find out. Maybe. Who knows. Either way, the memes should be great.



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