'Life is very good without Facebook,' says French finance minister

European lawmakers don’t seem to care if Mark Zuckerberg removes Facebook and Instagram from the continent. 

In fact, they welcome it.

On Monday, two top European officials dismissed Meta’s threat to shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe unless data regulations allowed the tech giant to share its user data with its US data centres.

‘After being hacked, I’ve lived without Facebook and Twitter for four years, and life has been fantastic,’ Robert Habeck, German Economy Minister said at a press conference in Paris.

Bruno Le Maire, the French Finance Minister echoed Habeck’s sentiments.

‘I can confirm that life is very good without Facebook and that we would live very well without Facebook,’ he said.

‘Digital giants must understand that the European continent will resist and affirm its sovereignty,’ Le Maire added.

The pair were responding to Meta’s annual report, released last week, which said it may pull services such as Facebook or Instagram from the continent if it couldn’t rely on a new or alternate means to transfer data from EU to the US.

The two EU leaders welcomed Meta’s warning that it may leave the EU over data-sharing issues.

‘The European Union is such a big internal market with so much economic power that if we act in unity, we won’t be intimidated by something like this,’ said Habeck.

Last week, Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, hinted at pulling its services from Europe over differences with regulators. 

‘If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted and we are unable to continue to rely on SCCs 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,’ stated the SEC filing.

Much of the dispute has centred around an Irish investigation into Facebook which raised concerns that the company’s data transfers were no longer legal. The social media company said in its February report that it was expecting the final ruling on data sharing in the first half of 2022.

‘Meta is absolutely not threatening to leave Europe’ said Markus Reinisch, Meta’s Vice President of Public Policy in Europe, responding to the politician’s comments in a written statement.

‘We have absolutely no desire to withdraw from Europe. Of course, we don’t,’ Reinisch wrote.

‘But the simple reality is that Meta, like many other businesses, organizations, and services, relies on data transfers between the EU and the US in order to operate our global services,’

‘Much like 70 other EU and US companies, we are identifying a business risk resulting from uncertainty around international data transfers,’ he added.

However, while other companies like Siemens, SAP and GSK have expressed concerns around the changes in data transfer regulations in their earnings filings, Meta is the only one that has explicitly hinted at the possibility of being ‘unable to offer’ their services in the region.

Meta’s exit from Europe would be welcomed by competitors like Supernova, the recently launched social media app that bills itself as the ‘ethical alternative to Instagram’.

‘Meta’s near virtual monopoly of social media is a huge problem that needs fixing. Along with at least half of Europe, including its leading politicians, I hope their “threat” of leaving us is more of a “promise”,’ Dominic O’Meara, the founder of Supernova told Metro.co.uk.

‘Supernova is ready to jump in and fill the void in competition and choice in social media, whether FB and IG are ready for us to or not,’ added O’Meara.

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