The UK government thinks it's time for Facebook to be regulated
For the last 18 months, UK lawmakers have investigated Facebook, and it's recommended they and other social media giants be regulated.
A damning report released on Monday said after years of self-regulation, these companies were unable to protect users data and privacy, or from disinformation.
The UK parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) final report recommended an independent regulator be set up (like UK's Ofcom or the FCC), and a compulsory code of ethics for social media companies.
The regulator should have legal powers, such as the ability to fine these companies if they fail to act on harmful or illegal content on their platforms, a responsibility they have long shied away from.
"Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a ‘platform’ and maintain that they have no responsibility themselves in regulating the content of their sites," the report reads.
The committee also recommended electoral laws be overhauled, so that it's clear who is paying for political campaigns on digital platforms.
Transparency on political advertising is something which Facebook has been working on, but it's far from perfect, as evidenced by an openDemocracy investigation on the mysterious money funding pro-Brexit campaigns.
The committee also criticised Facebook for its data sharing practices, where it gave deeper access to users' data for partners who had special deals with Facebook, overriding user privacy settings.
"From the Six4Three case documents, it is clear that spending substantial sums with Facebook, as a condition of maintaining preferential access to personal data, was part and parcel of the company’s strategy of platform development as it embraced the mobile advertising world. And that this approach was driven from the highest level," the report reads.
They were also unhappy with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, accusing him of "showing contempt" to the committee, after he failed to show up to a hearing of international lawmakers last November.
"Even if Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t believe he is accountable to the UK Parliament, he is to the billions of Facebook users across the world," DCMS chair, Damian Collins MP, said in a statement online.
"Evidence uncovered by my Committee shows he still has questions to answer yet he’s continued to duck them, refusing to respond to our invitations directly or sending representatives who don’t have the right information."
In a statement to Mashable via email, Facebook's UK public policy manager Karim Palant said the company shared the committee's "concerns about false news and election integrity," and is pleased to have made a "significant contribution" to the committee.
"We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee's recommendation for electoral law reform ... We also support effective privacy legislation that holds companies to high standards in their use of data and transparency for users," the statement read.
Palant said while Facebook still has more to do, the social media giant was not the same company it was a year ago.
He said the company has tripled the size of the team working on detecting bad content, as well as investing in machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect abuse.
The DCMS report comes after a Washington Post report last week, which said Facebook is set to face a multibillion-dollar fine from the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations. It seems in the U.S., and now the UK, sorry just won't cut it anymore.
"These are issues that the major tech companies are well aware of, yet continually fail to address," Collins said.
"The guiding principle of the ‘move fast and break things’ culture often seems to be that it is better to apologise than ask permission."
via Mashable https://mashable.com/category/social-media/?utm_campaign=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-SocialMedia-Partial&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-SocialMedia-Partial
February 18, 2019 at 03:42AM