At the start of 2024, the Digital Services Act (DSA) will come into effect. That means that there will be many new rules that will benefit users of platforms like Google, Instagram, and TikTok. We read the textRead the final text of the DSA here! –which has just been final–which has just been finalized– and list 8 rules that will soon protect your rights from online platforms.
A lot is going to change in online advertising. Firstly, for example, it must be made clear with every advertisement that it is an ad, on whose behalf it was placed, who paid for it. Platforms also have to show what the most important criteria were that led to precisely you being shown that advertisement—and how you can adjust those criteria. And lastly, ads should not be targeted using sensitive data, such as ethnicity, political opinion, religion or sexual orientation.
2. General conditions become legible
The terms and conditions of online platforms will have to be clear, accessible, and user-friendly. And the very large platforms, such as Google and Facebook, must offer a clear summary of the terms and conditions. This means that sometime soon, you will no longer agree with lengthy terms and conditions without reading them.
3. The end of manipulation?
Soon, online interfaces of platforms may no longer manipulate or hinder users' freedom of choice. What that means exactly remains to be seen in practice. But we hope it will mean saying 'no' once, is enough, that 'accept' and 'decline' buttons will become the same size and that boxes will no longer already be checked for you.
4. The order of your feed becomes clear and customizable
Platforms will soon have to clearly state the main metrics they use for their recommendation systems, as well as the options for modifying or influencing those recommendation systems. These standards must explain why certain information is shown to you in a certain order. Large platforms will have to offer at least one recommendation system that is not based on the profile they have made of you based on your online behaviour.
5. Children are better protected
Platforms aimed primarily at—or used by—minors will have to offer their terms and conditions in a language minors can understand. And platforms may not show tracking-based ads to children based.
6. Getting rid of online filth
Anyone will soon be able to report potentially illegal content to a platform. And if you make a report, the platform must do something about it. The platform must tell you—as the reporter of illegal content—what happened to your report: whether it was indeed illegal content, and whether the content or person posting it was removed, etc.
7. Your posts will no longer be deleted overnight
If platforms take an action, such as removing, making less visible or flagging your content, they must justify that with a reference to a law or a specific article in their terms of service. They should also then clearly state how and where you can appeal this decision.
8. An all-you-can-object-and-complain diner
There will be different ways to complain about (decisions made by) platforms. So if your post is removed, and you disagree with the justification, you can now do something about that. And if the platform doesn't do enough with your report of possible illegal content, you can soon also complain about it! You may go to the platform's own internal complaint system—which should be free and accessible. Additionally, you will have access to an out-of-court dispute resolution body designated to adjudicate such matters. Furthermore, you can also always complain at the Digital Services Coordinator of the EU Member State you're situated. And, of course, the way to bring a platform to court is always open.