Facebook and Instagram disable features in Europe

From 21 December, messaging apps will fall under EU rules known as the ePrivacy Directive.


Facebook is notifying Messenger and Instagram users in Europe that some features are temporarily unavailable. A small message has appeared in both the Facebook Messenger and Instagram apps for European users this week, noting that some features aren’t available to “respect new rules for messaging services in Europe.”


Facebook doesn’t outline exactly what features will be missing, but the company does reveal on its support pages that polls on both Messenger and Instagram are currently unavailable in Europe, alongside a lack of stickers in Instagram and no personalized replies on Messenger. Other missing features may include a lack of certain file sends on Messenger, missing nicknames, or the ability to share AR effects in DMs on Instagram


Facebook has temporarily disabled some of these features to comply with new rules on data usage in EU countries. It’s part of the national implementations that are taking place of the 2002 Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive (ePrivacy Directive). This directive imposes stricter rules on data use across communications services that operate in countries that are part of the European Union.

EU ePrivacy Regulation: what you need to know


IT-based services are developing and evolving extremely fast. In response to this European Commission has undertaken major changes in the European legislation and data protection framework. The ePrivacy regulation is part of this efforts. Here are the key points of the Commission’s proposal:


  • New players: privacy rules will in the future also apply to new players providing electronic communications services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Skype. This will ensure that these popular services guarantee the same level of confidentiality of communications as traditional telecoms operators.

  • Stronger rules: all people and businesses in the EU will enjoy the same level of protection of their electronic communications through this directly applicable regulation. Businesses will also benefit from one single set of rules across the EU.

  • Communications content and metadata: privacy is guaranteed for communications content and metadata, e.g. time of a call and location. Metadata have a high privacy component and is to be anonymized or deleted if users did not give their consent, unless the data is needed for billing.

  • New business opportunities: once consent is given for communications data – content and/or metadata – to be processed, traditional telecoms operators will have more opportunities to provide additional services and to develop their businesses. For example, they could produce heat maps indicating the presence of individuals; these could help public authorities and transport companies when developing new infrastructure projects.

  • Simpler rules on cookies: the cookie provision, which has resulted in an overload of consent requests for internet users, will be streamlined. The new rule will be more user-friendly as browser settings will provide for an easy way to accept or refuse tracking cookies and other identifiers. The proposal also clarifies that no consent is needed for non-privacy intrusive cookies improving internet experience (e.g. to remember shopping cart history) or cookies used by a website to count the number of visitors.

  • Protection against spam: this proposal bans unsolicited electronic communications by emails, SMS and automated calling machines. Depending on national law people will either be protected by default or be able to use a do-not-call list to not receive marketing phone calls. Marketing callers will need to display their phone number or use a special pre-fix that indicates a marketing call.

  • More effective enforcement: the enforcement of the confidentiality rules in the Regulation will be the responsibility of data protection authorities, already in charge of the rules under the General Data Protection Regulation.

Source: European Commission

What is your opinion about the new EU Regulation? Let us know in the comments.

If you would like to know more about ePrivacy or GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), contact us.


Last updated: 18 Dec, 2020

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