Europe cracks down on Big Tech. This is what changes when you sign on

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. profiling / ˈproʊ faɪ lɪŋ / (n.) – the act of collecting and analyzing useful information about someone/something

    Online advertisers often engage in user profiling to deliver specific ads to particular audiences.

  2. pirated / ˈpaɪr ə t̬ɪd / (adj.) – (of music, movies, and computer programs) illegally copied and sold

    The man was arrested for selling pirated movies on the street.

  3. dodgy / ˈdɒdʒ i / (adj.) – false, dishonest, and not reliable

    Marie got involved in a dodgy business. Now, she’s facing legal charges and losing all her money because of it.

  4. downplay / ˈdaʊnˌpleɪ / (v.) – to make something seem less important or serious than it really is

    The comedy show downplays the serious effects of the economic crisis by making jokes out of it.

  5. tighten up / ˈtaɪt n ʌp / (phrasal v.) – to make something, such as a rule, system, or law, stricter and stronger

    The police are trying to make the neighborhood safer by tightening up the security around the area.


Read the text below.

On August 25, Europeans saw their online lives change. People in the 27-nation European Union (EU) can alter some of what shows up when they search, scroll, and share on the biggest social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and other tech giants like Google and Amazon.

That’s because Big Tech companies, most headquartered in the U.S., are now subject to a pioneering new set of EU digital regulations. The Digital Services Act (DSA) aims to protect European users when it comes to privacy, transparency, and removal of harmful or illegal content.

You can turn off AI-recommended videos. Automated recommendation systems decide, based on people’s profiles, what they see in their feeds. Those can be switched off. Algorithmic recommendation systems based on user profiles have been blamed for creating so-called filter bubbles and pushing social media users to increasingly extreme posts. The European Commission wants users to have at least one other option for content recommendations that are not based on profiling.

It’s easier to flag harmful content. Users should find it easier to report a post, video, or comment that breaks the law or violates a platform’s rules so that it can be reviewed and taken down if required.

You’ll know why your post was taken down. The EU wants platforms to be more transparent about how they operate.

You can report fake products. The DSA is not just about policing content. It’s also aimed at stopping the flow of counterfeit Gucci handbags, pirated Nike sneakers, and other dodgy goods. Online fashion marketplace Zalando is setting up flagging systems, though it downplays the threat posed by its highly curated collection of designer clothes, bags, and shoes. “Customers only see content produced or screened by Zalando,” the German company said. “As a result, we have close to zero risk of illegal content and are therefore in a better position than many other companies when it comes to implementing the DSA changes.”

Your kids won’t be targeted with digital ads. Brussels wants to crack down on digital ads aimed at children over concerns about privacy and manipulation. Some platforms already started tightening up ahead of August 25’s deadline, even beyond Europe.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • How do you think the Digital Services Act will impact the user experience on major social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook in Europe? Do you think your country should consider adopting this act? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Under the Digital Services Act, users have the power to turn off AI recommendations, report harmful content, stop the flow of counterfeit products, know why their post is taken down, and limit digital ads aimed at children. Which among these features do you think would be the most beneficial to you? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Why do you think a lot of people still use social media platforms despite the privacy issues present nowadays (ex. they are not aware of the threats, social media is very useful in their lives)? Discuss.
  • What advice would you give to someone who’s new to social media? Discuss.