With close to one billion active users on social media, platforms and businesses are constantly rolling out new features, upgrading their ad tools and creating new ways to engage with users, moving away from traditional marketing strategies. Those emerging practices are also extensively relying on data analyses to gain insights and enhance more targeted opportunities, therefore shifting platforms and businesses’ focus on revenue.

The evolution towards increasingly personalized marketing practices occurs in parallel with end-users’ awareness of data protection frameworks, which may lead to a rift between transparency expectations towards complex advertising solutions based not only on personal data provided by the users themselves, but also in conjunction with other data collected by social media providers or third parties. Recent headlines about the roles played by social media targeting on democratic decision-making and electoral processes reinforce such perceptions.

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While privacy concerns associated to the implementation of COVID-19 contact tracing apps across the European Union exist, the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) also released a position paper on the collection of publicly available personal data for the purpose of direct marketing on 30 April 2020 and following numerous individual complaints. Such complaints notably related to companies automating the collection of telephone and email contact information from individuals, appearing on consumer-to-consumer (C2C) websites (e.g. real estate ads) or from online directories, a practice known as “web scraping”.

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Of the difficulty to frame photograph as a protected work and its consequences on social network.

On December 18, 2012, further to its acquisition by Facebook, Instagram unveiled its new terms of use, to be enforced on January 16, 2013. At the case of the redrafting of the contract tying the social network to it, users stood much-discussed undertaking which allowed the company to monetize its users’ photographs, notably for commercial and advertising purposes. Facing a major uproar from internet users Instagram elected to withdraw this provision and apologized fondly. However, such withdrawal only targeted the cancellation of clear terms of what the terms of use provided from the very beginning: the grant by the users to Instagram of the right to use the photographs uploaded on its platform.

Two days later, the courts of Paris rendered a judgment (TGI Paris, 3ème chambre, 4ème section, Jugement du 20 décembre 2012 – Philippe G, Alexandra J c./ Paul M. (in French)) which may jeopardize the grievances of the social network users. Indeed, the judges refused to recognize that the airplane photographs take by individuals bore sufficient originality to allow any protection under French intellectual property law.

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