Starting December 1, the ePiracy directive will take effect in the European Union and messaging apps will fall under them. Facebook has decided to temporarily deactivate some of the interactive features on Messenger and Instagram in Europe, including group chat polls, setting nicknames, sharing of augmented-reality features, etc. They will be reactivating these once they are able to update the apps to comply with the new rules subject to messaging apps. Strangely enough, the features removed don’t seem to have anything to do with the directive.
The EU’s ePiracy directive will limit what tech companies like Facebook and Google can do with messages exchanged on their platforms as well as the metadata attached to them. It will also not allow surveillance or interception of communications and metadata through the platforms unless there’s explicit consent from all parties involved. The directive will now apply to “over the top” messaging services as well as those from traditional telecoms companies.
Facebook says that for now, they will be offering just the core messaging service in Europe until they are able to revise and update other features in compliance with the directive. So for now, some of the features will be deactivated but they did not provide a full list since they will be bringing them back quickly anyway. This will not affect the core messaging and calling options of both apps. Users will get a notification saying “some features are not available.”
But BBC says that this move by Facebook is a bit puzzling since some of the features they disabled don’t have anything to do with the ePiracy directive. It’s probably the company “playing safe” and just offer the barebones messaging feature until they are able to fix some things behind the scenes to comply. Sharing stickers and augmented-reality features probably don’t have anything to do with that but until then, users will have to make do without them.
The Messenger and Instagram tools will be deactivated in stages across Europe so some users may still have certain features active while others won’t have it anymore. Let’s wait for further announcements from Facebook as to when these features will go back.