Google, Twitter, Meta, Apple face tougher EU online content rules

February 18, 2023 - 6:04 PM
hands on a smartphone via Pixabay
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

BRUSSELS — Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc, Twitter and Apple face stricter EU online content rules, based on monthly user numbers published by the companies, which exceeded an EU threshold for big online platforms.

The new rules known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) label companies with more than 45 million users as very large online platforms and subject to obligations such as risk management and external and independent auditing. They are also required to share data with authorities and researchers and adopt a code of conduct.

The European Commission had given online platforms and search engines until February 17 to publish their monthly active users. Very large online platforms have four months to comply with the rules or risk fines.

Twitter said it has 100.9 million average monthly users in the EU, based on an estimation of the last 45 days.

Alphabet provided one set of numbers based on users’ accounts and another set based on signed-out recipients, saying users can access its services whether they sign in to an account or are signed out.

It said the average monthly number of signed-in users totalled 278.6 million at Google Maps, 274.6 million at Google Play, 332 million at Google Search, 74.9 million at Shopping and 401.7 million at YouTube.

Apple said only its App Store built for its iPhones, with more than 45 million monthly users, qualifies as a very large online platform. But it will also apply the same rules to the App Store for iPads, Mac computers, Apple Watch and TV.

“Apple intends, on an entirely voluntary basis, to align each of the existing versions of the App Store (including those that do not currently meet the VLOP designation threshold) with the existing DSA requirements for VLOPs because the goals of the DSA align with Apple’s goals to protect consumers from illegal content,” it said in a statement.

EBay said it is below the EU user threshold.

Earlier this week, Meta Platforms said it had 255 million average monthly active users on Facebook in the EU and about 250 million average monthly active users on Instagram in the last six months of 2022.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Jane Merriman