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Germany Dislikes Facebook’s Like Button

Will German Facebook business owners like this new rule?

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Germany Dislikes Facebook’s Like Button
[ Social Media]

Apparently, it will soon be illegal to like anything in Germany anymore, at least through Facebook. Thanks to a determination given by “the data protection centre of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein” (ULD), the Facebook “Like” button violates Germany’s strict privacy edicts, and therefore, must be removed.

As pointed out by The Local, the issues with Facebook were explained by a ULD release, and it essentially says Facebook’s “Like” button builds profiles of users and submits them back to a server in the United States. This is a direct violation of the rules set up by Germany concerning the privacy of its citizens. Because of that, German businesses that reside in the Schleswig-Holstein district must remove the “Like” button from their sites, or else face punishment in the form of a fine:

ULD expects from website owners in Schleswig-Holstein to immediately stop the passing on of user data to Facebook in the USA by deactivating the respective services. If this does not take place by the end of September 2011, ULD will take further steps. After performing the hearing and administrative procedure this can mean a formal complaint according to sect. 42 LDSG SH for public entities, a prohibition order pursuant to sect. 38 par. 5 BDSG as well as a penalty fine for private entities. The maximum fine for violations of the TMG is 50TS Euro.

That’s 50,000 Euros for those who aren’t sure.

Facebook maintains that their “Like” button meets EU’s privacy standards, but a spokesperson for the ULD, Thilo Weichert, disagrees:

ULD has pointed out informally for some time that many Facebook offerings are in conflict with the law. This unfortunately has not prevented website owners from using the respective services and the more so as they are easy to install and free of charge. Web analytics is among those services and especially informative for advertising purposes. It is paid with the data of the users. With the help of these data Facebook has gained an estimated market value of more than 50 bn. dollars ($50 billion)

Nobody should claim that there are no alternatives; there are European and other social media available that take the protection of privacy rights of Internet users far more serious. That they also may contain problematic applications must not be a reason to remain idle towards Facebook, but must prompt us as supervisory authorities to pursue these violations.

Basically, don’t use anything that could potentially feed Facebook’s metrics-gathering system. In fact, Weichert suggests using other social media platforms, although, the problem with that is potentially missing out on Facebook’s far-and-wide reach.

Nevertheless, the burden of being Facebook-compliant falls on the business owners, at least for now. Nothing in the documents indicates Facebook will be punished for these privacy violations, perceived or otherwise. The fines will not be aimed at Facebook for collecting the data, instead, they will be for the owners who continue to feed the beast.

Germany Dislikes Facebook’s Like Button
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  • http://www.TheOkayNetwork.com/apps/plusonespy Adsense Publisher

    So does this mean it’s a + for the Google +1 buttons? Will the Google +1 button run into the same issue when it reaches Germany?

  • John Adams

    Welcome to the world people where government has its fingers in everything. Coming to America soon…

    • http://chicagoseosmallbusinessmarketingconslutant.com Dusan

      And if it was Google, using the German government to further Google agenda? Just saying.

  • http://www.realizzazionesitiwebancona.it Jef.P

    Normally these things are sorted out with a tickbox disclaimer, can’t facebook add this option when creating your likebox?

  • http://www.internetblogger.com Thorsten Peters

    Today my first to do in Germany on Sunday was: deactivated Facebook Button – activated Google+ …now I’am great fan of g+ :-)

  • http://leetsee.com/ Leetsee

    What I don’t understand… a site owner doesn’t force me to click that like button. I click it or not. It is my choice. If I don’t like my details shared I don’t use the like button, or even better, I don’t sign up with facebook… Why does a state has to mess with this kind of things I have no idea.

    • http://cheapercosmeticsurgeryabroad.com Tim

      It’s true that no-one is forced to click the button, but it’s fair to say enough people don’t really think before they do, in the same way that many people don’t consider how much information they make publicly available on facebook. These types of companies actually find it amusing that we trust them.

      If a government had the degree of information about us as facebook, we’d be up in arms, so it’s actually quite reassuring for me that some governments are aware of the danger. Wish my country felt the same way.

  • http://www.jacksononthemoon.com Sharon J

    I think the government is doing exactly what it should be doing… protecting its citizens from having their personal information sent to a foreign country for an unspecified use by a corporation. How many people know that when they click “like,” that Facebook will store that little snippet of information and add it to their profile information which they already own? Probably not many. Yay for Schleswig-Holstein.

  • http://www.fixpcfreeze.com Mathews

    That is mean and funny a law that I have ever come across. Not only that how are they going to stop those other sites hosted else where from leaving the like button on their sites?

  • hupf

    I totally agree with that decision, and I hope that the law will be extended to the Google +1 button as well. I also hope that other countries follow suit.

  • http://www.misslin.co.uk chris

    Interesting article and Sh are quite right.
    Question: I “liked” Fudbook way the article. does it mean Fb knows I don’t like them despise liking it?

  • http://zapek.com/ Dave

    Most people are missing the point. The “Like” button, even when not clicked, will tell facebook that you visited that site. This is not new, Ad providers already did this long ago. The difference is that facebook has profile data, email, cell phone, friends, …

    • http://www.TheOkayNetwork.com/apps/plusonespy Adsense Publisher

      Even if you don’t have a Facebook profile Facebook will match this “anonymous” data they are collecting on you from all the like buttons and then add that to your Facebook profile if you create an account. They should rename their site to spybook.com

  • http://www.jeftineaviokarte.com jaSam

    I think it is cool

  • http://www.randypenn.com Randy Penn

    Facebook helped UK police to arrest those rebels who worked to change their government and put them in jail for asking others to meet and protest. No one actually came to the event but the people who called to arms were met with jail. Do not protest on facebook or go to jail.

  • http://how-to-internet-marketing-articles-vi.blogspot.com/ Ramiro Rodriguez

    Hey Chris,

    I started one article and wound up here. I don’t know how I missed this one. At any rate, I’m in shock and don’t know what to say about Germany’s issue.

    It sounds like something that FB can fix in order to come into compliance with Germany’s laws.

  • http://loveplugins.com/ wp plugins

    Would you be able to manual me on your internet marketer or dude which manages your blog post, I would like to determine if it might be easy to be described as a guests poster.