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No plans to quit Europe amid data spat: Facebook’s Meta

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Meta says it has no plans to shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe, despite a threat to do so./AFP
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Feb 08, 2022 - 07:12 AM

WASHINGTON — Facebook’s parent firm Meta said Monday it has no plans to pull its services from Europe, after raising the possibility amid an ongoing row over transferring European data to the United States.

Data is central to the ad business that generates nearly all of the company’s billion of dollars in revenue, and frameworks that have overseen the transfer of information from the continent are now in limbo.

“We have absolutely no desire and no plans to withdraw from Europe, but the simple reality is that Meta, and many other businesses, organisations and services, rely on data transfers between the EU and the US in order to operate global services,” the firm said in a statement.

The crucial “Privacy Shield” online data arrangement between Europe and the United States was invalidated in July 2020 in a top EU court decision that threw transatlantic big tech into legal uncertainty.

Meta also noted in a filing Thursday to US market regulators that the bases it uses for data transfer are also in legal and regulatory jeopardy.

“If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted… we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe,” Meta wrote in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

European authorities and the US government are still talking through ways to resolve the issue.

The social media giant recently saw its worst-ever plunge in market value, after disappointing quarterly results that raised questions about its future.

Its signature Facebook platform saw a small dip in daily users globally at the end of 2021, the first such decline for a platform relentlessly focused on growth.

The company’s preoccupation with adding users was central to the whistleblower scandal last year, in which leaked internal documents underpinned press reports saying the company prioritized growth over safety.

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