Tuesday, 19 March 2019

MPs call for tougher regulation of Facebook as the UK cracks down on fake-news

By Chris Kelly, Total Telecom
Monday 18 February 19

A House of Commons subcommittee has accused Facebook of being deliberately evasive in its dealings with the UK's investigation into fake-news

A House of Commons subcommittee has suggested that social media giant, Facebook, should be subjected to much stricter regulation in an attempt to crack down on the spread of 'fake-news'. A report published by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) subcommittee on Disinformation and Fake News found that "…

A House of Commons subcommittee has suggested that social media giant, Facebook, should be subjected to much stricter regulation in an attempt to crack down on the spread of 'fake-news'.

A report published by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) subcommittee on Disinformation and Fake News found that "big tech companies are failing in the duty of care they owe to their users to act against harmful content, and to respect their data privacy rights".

Facebook said that it shared the UK government's concerns about the spread of fake-news and was open to the possibility of more stringent regulation.

"We share the committee's concerns about false news and election integrity and are pleased to have made a significant contribution to their investigation over the past 18 months, answering more than 700 questions and with four of our most senior executives giving evidence. We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee's recommendation for electoral law reform," a Facebook spokesman said.

Despite Facebook's conciliatory tone, members of the subcommittee said that they had found it difficult to gain access to high level Facebook officials, most notably the company's founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, during its investigation.  

Damian Collins, chairman of the Disinformation and Fake News subcommittee, said that Facebook must do better in its interaction with regulators and called for the implementation of a compulsory code of ethics to be overseen by an independent regulator.  

"We believe that in its evidence to the committee, Facebook has often deliberately sought to frustrate our work, by giving incomplete, disingenuous and at time misleading answers to our questions," he said.

"These are issues that the major tech companies are well aware of, yet continually fail to address. The guiding principle of the 'move fast and break things' culture seems to be that it is better to apologise than ask permission."

Also in the news

Could data security fears be blocking a $52bn opportunity for telcos in the second hand device market? 

Germany cracks down on Facebook over data harvesting 

Zuckerberg snubs investigators over data handling in Europe

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