With the impending implementation of the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has announced an extensive list of changes that aim to increase transparency, accountability, and user empowerment.

Transparency at the Heart of the DSA

As part of its ongoing commitment to meeting regulatory obligations, Meta has welcomed the principles of transparency, accountability, and user empowerment at the core of the DSA. The company’s history of openness around policies, processes, and enforcement resonates well with the provisions of this regulation.

The DSA, which applies to Facebook, Instagram, and other tech platforms operating in the EU, offers a unified approach to internet regulation. It aims to protect people’s rights online while nurturing innovation.

Responding to New Rules

Since the DSA came into force last November, Meta has assembled a cross-functional team of over 1,000 people to develop solutions that align with the new rules. The company has initiated measures to enhance the transparency of its systems and give users more control over their experiences.

Ads Transparency and Protections

Building on the already industry-leading ads transparency tools, Meta is expanding its Ad Library to display and archive all ads targeting people in the EU. This includes dates, targeting parameters, and information about who was served the ad. The ads will be stored in a public Ad Library for one year.

Additionally, teens aged 13-17 will no longer see advertising based on their activities on the apps, with age and location being the only information used to show them ads.

Insights into AI Systems

Meta is offering an unprecedented view into its AI systems by releasing 22 system cards that explain how content is ranked on Facebook and Instagram. This builds on the “Why Am I Seeing This” feature, providing insights into why specific content is deemed relevant.

Furthermore, two new tools for researchers – the Meta Content Library and API – are being rolled out, offering comprehensive access to publicly-available content across both platforms.

More Control for Users

Additional transparency is accompanied by more control, with users now being able to tailor what they see on Facebook and Instagram. They will have the option to view content in ways not ranked by Meta’s systems, such as viewing Stories and Reels only from people they follow or search results based purely on the entered words.

Easy-to-access reporting tools for illegal content have been added, and EU users will now receive more extensive notifications regarding content moderation decisions.

A New Era of Regulation?

Despite Meta’s enthusiastic embrace of the Digital Services Act and its robust claims of transparency and user empowerment, skeptics may find it hard to ignore the company’s past controversies. While the newly announced features seem to align with the principles of the DSA, the question remains whether these actions represent a genuine commitment to user privacy and integrity, or merely a strategic move to navigate the complex waters of regulatory compliance.

The effectiveness of these measures in truly enhancing user control and accountability will only become clear over time. The onus is now on Meta to demonstrate that these changes are more than just a well-packaged response to legal obligations and that they signify a real shift in the way the company engages with its vast user base. In a world where trust in tech giants is wavering, actions will speak louder than carefully crafted statements, and the true impact of the DSA on Meta’s platforms remains to be seen.