Facebook has been on the receiving end of a lot of legislative inquiries and litigations around the world and it has lost many of those fights in Europe. It’s not surprising, then, that it is trying to be too careful now that the region has passed new privacy-related rules. European of the social media giant’s instant messaging services in Messenger and Instagram (which recently “merged”) might now see a worrying notification when they try to use features. Facebook reassures that this situation is only temporary.
The new rules under the Privacy and Electronic Communication Directive, abbreviated to ePrivacy Directive, simply limit what companies can do with the messages you send and the metadata attached to those messages. The rules apply not just to telcos but also to “over-the-top” messaging services, exactly like Messenger and Instagram. Those, however, don’t exactly apply to other “fun” stuff the services do, which is what makes Facebook’s move a bit curious.
Those fun stuff include things like stickers or making polls in group chats but these are just some of the features that will cause the warning to pop up. Even something as simple as setting a nickname for a contact is also apparently disabled. Facebook will warn users that some features are temporarily unavailable to respect the new rules in Europe.
The social media giant doesn’t have a list of what features are currently disabled because it says it doesn’t really matter. They will soon be back quickly, though it also doesn’t give a timeline for their return either. Given the importance of these services, it probably won’t sit on them for too long.
It’s still puzzling and almost amusing that Facebook decided to pause these features that don’t have any direct relation to the ePrivacy Directive. Perhaps these features do actually carry some metadata that violate those new rules or Facebook is just trying to be extra careful this time around.