With Europe’s data privacy protecting Digital Markets Act (DMA) set to come into effect in March, Meta has today announced some additional data control options for EU users, which will enable them to completely separate their Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger presences, if they so choose.
First off, EU users will soon be able to silo their Facebook and Instagram accounts, with their data from each maintained in isolation from each other, as opposed to running through Meta’s Accounts Center linkage.
As per Meta:
“People who have already chosen to connect their Instagram and Facebook accounts will be able to choose either to continue to connect their accounts through our Accounts Center so that their information will be used across their Instagram and Facebook accounts, or to manage their Instagram and Facebook accounts separately so that their information is no longer used across accounts.”
That’ll give EU users more choice as to how their personal information is used, though Meta would, of course, prefer that they maintain that connection, feeding more contextual data into its systems.
Though there is also something to be said, from a UI perspective, about separating the two. The profiles that you follow on Facebook are likely very different to the ones you’re interested in on IG, and it could be interesting to isolate the two to see if the relevant recommendations improve on each app. Which is not the aim of this initiative, as such, but could be an interesting side note.
The optional separation of user data also extends to Messenger, as well as Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Gaming, with EU users getting broader controls over each aspect of their personal data usage.
“People using Facebook Messenger can choose whether they wish to continue using Facebook Messenger with their Facebook account, or if they would prefer to create a stand-alone new Messenger account. People who choose to create a new Messenger account without their Facebook information will be able to use Messenger’s core service offering such as private messaging and chat, voice and video calling.”
But some functionality will be limited, because Meta won’t have the same contextual info or cross-sharing capacity. But in essence, EU users will be able to control how their information is used across each element of Meta’s platforms, which somehow extends to Marketplace and Gaming as well.
The latest update comes in addition to EU users also now being able to pay a monthly fee for ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram, thus eliminating personal data tracking for ad targeting, which Meta first announced last November. Though that is facing a legal challenge from a privacy rights group in Austria, which claims that Meta is using this as a means to avoid DMA regulations by charging people to opt out of ad tracking.
That challenge is unlikely to get up, as Meta could counter-argue that disallowing this element would restrict its trading options. But it highlights the battle for personal data rights in the EU, which has implemented the strictest data control laws of any region to date.
It’ll be interesting to see how EU lawmakers look to tackle generative AI next, and the use of data inputs for AI training sets. The complexities in that instance look to be even more challenging, and impactful than personal data usage in social apps, and with the DMA coming into effect, that seems likely to be the next battleground for the EU team.
But right now, all social apps are updating their systems in preparation for the DMA, and how that will change their businesses moving forward.
As noted, the EU DMA coming into effect in March.