In a new regulatory filling this month, Facebook parent company Meta renewed its threats to pull both Facebook and Instagram in the European Union over privacy laws. Regulators in the EU, however, have quickly called Meta’s bluff, and even went as far east to say that “life is very good without Facebook and that we would live very well without Facebook.”
The context here is important. As Bloomberg explains, the United States and the European Union are stuck in negotiations over plans to “replace a transatlantic data transfer pact that thousands of companies relied on.” This pact, however, was struck down by the EU Court of Justice in 2020 “over fears citizens’ data isn’t safe” once it’s transferred to the United States.
As such, the EU and United States are currently in negotiations for a new pact, and the lack of an agreement between the two sides could spell trouble for companies, including Meta. In a new filing this month, Meta renewed previous threats (promises?) that it would be forced to pull Facebook and Instagram both if an agreement isn’t reached.
The company wrote in the filing that it would “likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”
“We have absolutely no desire and no plans to withdraw from Europe, but the simple reality is that Meta, and many other businesses, organizations and services, rely on data transfers between the EU and the US in order to operate global services,” a Meta spokesman said in an emailed statement.
But shortly following Meta’s comments, two top German and French politicians brushed off the threats.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters that he’s been without Facebook and Twitter for four years due to his account being hacked, and that “life has been fantastic” since then. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire added that he can “confirm life is very good with Facebook” and that “we would live very well without Facebook.”
Le Maire went on to add that big tech companies must “understand that the European continent will resist and affirm its sovereignty.” Habeck added that the EU “is such a big internal market with so much economic power that if we act in unity we won’t be intimidated by something like this.”
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