Meta Threatens To Pull Facebook and Instagram in Europe Over Data-Sharing Rift

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Meta renewed a warning to the EU that it will likely pull its “most significant products, including Facebook and Instagram” in Europe if the company cannot transfer data to the U.S.

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Meta stated in its annual report, if it is unable to transfer data between and among countries and regions in which it operates, or if it is restricted from sharing data among its products and services, it could affect its ability to provide services. The company said such a data restriction would disrupt “the manner in which we provide our services or our ability to target ads, which could adversely affect our financial results.”

Meta adds that the Privacy Shield, a transfer framework for data transferred from the EU to the U.S., was invalidated in July 2020 by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

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“If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted and we are unable to continue to rely on SCCs [Standard Contractual Clauses] or rely upon other alternative means of data transfers from Europe to the United States, we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe, which would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations,” the company said.

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European Parliament Member Alex Voss responded to Meta’s warning via tweet, stating, “I have always called for an alternative to the EU US #privacyshield to find a balanced agreement on data exchange + always called for #GDPR flexibility. However, #META cannot just blackmail the EU into giving up its data protection standards, leaving the EU would be their loss.”

Other European politicians also fired back, including German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, who said at an event alongside French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, “After being hacked I’ve lived without Facebook and Twitter for four years and life has been fantastic,” Bloomberg reported.

Le Maire added, “I can confirm that life is very good without Facebook and that we would live very well without Facebook,” Le Maire added. “Digital giants must understand that the European continent will resist and affirm its sovereignty.”

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In a separate development, Meta also announced Feb. 7 that Peter Thiel, Partner at Founders Fund and PayPal co-founder, has decided not to stand for reelection to the Board of Directors of the Company, which he joined in 2005.

“It has been a privilege to work with one of the great entrepreneurs of our time. Mark Zuckerberg’s intelligence, energy, and conscientiousness are tremendous. His talents will serve Meta well as he leads the company into a new era,” Thiel said in the announcement.

CNBC reported that Thiel invested $500,000 in thefacebook.com in 2004, becoming the first significant outside investor in the fast-growing social networking site that was spreading around college campuses. A year later, Zuckerberg dropped “the” from the name and made it Facebook.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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