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Is this the end of Facebook in Europe?

Facebook could leave Europe
(Image credit: Kenny Eliason from Unsplash)

Facebook has threatened to remove its services from the UK and Europe, following data transfer agreements between the UK and US that are now invalid. If the action goes go ahead, it will affect hundreds of thousands of people who not only use the platform as a tool for socializing and sharing images but businesses who use it for marketing and promotion. 

Over the past few months Facebook, owned by parent company Meta (which also owns Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger), has been threatening to pull its services out of Europe following new regulations regarding GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations). According to the video posted to TDLR YouTube (below), under GDPR regulations personal data can only be transferred to countries that can ensure an adequate level of protection.

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As an American company, Meta’s servers and data centers are based in the US. For years and years, data has been transferred between the EU and US with no issues under the International Safe Privacy principles regulations. 

One of the main reasons Facebook might be pulled from the EU is due to privacy issues, based on the fact that Meta agreed to the PRISM programe – which enables the United States National Security Agency to collect data from Facebook without user consent. Something that completely goes against EU GDPR regulations.

If Facebook leaves the EU, then services like Instagram are likely to follow suit. Meta has recognized that pulling its services from the UK and Europe will have a massive impact on its business structure unless a solid agreement can be formed between the US and the EU. 

In the second quarter of 2022, around 22% of Meta’s $28 billion earnings came from the EU. So if the US, the EU and Meta can’t come up with a viable solution, Meta will be left with two options: leave the EU and take all its services with it, or it becomes federated, which means it will store most of its data on EU-based servers. This way, only essential data would be sent to the USA, and the NSA wouldn't be able to freely access personal data. 

SWIFT financial messaging operates its services in this way, storing all its data in servers in Switzerland and Belgium. Only the most important information is sent to the US, but Facebook has expressed little interest in operating its services in this way. 

Despite the fact many of us love to hate Facebook, it’s a platform that lots of people rely on. Whether you use it to keep in contact with friends and family around the world, arrange social events, sell things on Marketplace or as a way to market your business, Facebook leaving the EU would have devastating consequences for both individuals and businesses. 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.