No, Facebook and Instagram aren't shutting down in Europe

The Meta logo on a smartphone in front of the Facebook logo a little bit blurred in the background
(Image credit: Shutterstock / rafapress)

Facebook parent company Meta has stepped back from threats to pull some of its most popular services out of Europe following a wave of backlash.

The move follows comments in Meta's annual 10-K SEC filing released alongsideits recent earnings report, in which it addressed transatlantic data sharing rules. Currently governed by EU-US agreements, Meta highlighted that the loss of one of these agreements could be a potential obstacle to future business on the continent. 

Coverage (and Twitter jokes) was swift, with some – including European lawmakers – arguing that Meta exciting Europe might actually be a good thing. "Threatening us with a good time" was a phrase used more than once. 

Step back

Seeking to dispel some of the confusion, Meta has weighed in with its own blog post, arguing against the notion that it was "threatening" to leave. 

"Meta is not wanting or 'threatening' to leave Europe and any reporting that implies we do is simply not true," wrote Meta's Markus Reinisch. "Much like 70 other EU and US companies, we are identifying a business risk resulting from uncertainty around international data transfers." 

Here to stay?

It's not that surprising that Meta isn't planning on leaving Europe. The company has millions of users on the continent and generates significant revenue from their activity on the platform. 

Meta had also raised similar issues back in 2020, also as part of mandatory financial reporting. In fact, the company says, it started warning about data sharing agreements as far back as Q2 2018. 

"International data transfers underpin the global economy and support many of the services that are fundamental to our daily lives," said Reinisch. "For many years, the legal framework supporting the transfer of data across the Atlantic has faced severe disruption. The Safe Harbour Agreement was struck down by the European Court of Justice in 2015. Last summer Privacy Shield, which was used by more than 5,000 companies on both sides of the Atlantic, was also invalidated by the European Court of Justice." 

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.