The U.K.’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee has released a scathing 111- page report on Facebook’s function in spreading disinformation and phony news. The report was the result of an 18- month examination into the social networks giant and fake news. The select committee’s report discovered that Facebook broke personal privacy and competition laws and knocked the tech giant and its executives as “digital gangsters,” reports the Guardian
Announcing the report’s findings, Damian Collins, the committee’s chair, stated:
Our questions over the last year has determined 3 huge risks to our society. The challenge for the year ahead is to start to fix them; we can not postpone any longer. Democracy is at danger from the malicious and unrelenting targeting of residents with disinformation and personalized ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, provided through the major social media platforms we utilize every day. Much of this is directed from firms working in foreign countries, consisting of Russia.
The big tech companies are stopping working in the task of care they owe to their users to act versus damaging material, and to respect their data personal privacy rights. Companies like Facebook exercise huge market power which enables them to generate income by bullying the smaller sized technology companies and designers who rely on this platform to reach their consumers. These are concerns that the significant tech companies are aware of, yet continuously stop working to address. The directing principle of the ‘move fast and break things’ culture typically appears to be that it is better to say sorry than ask consent.
And from the report itself:
Facebook continues to choose profit over data security, taking risks in order to prioritize their objective of earning money from user data. It appears clear to us that Facebook acts just when major breaches become public.
Even more, Collins said:
Mark Zuckerberg continually stops working to reveal the levels of management and personal obligation that ought to be expected from somebody who sits at the top of among the world’s most significant companies.
As for the suggestions the committee recommends, the report requires:
- A required Code of Ethics for tech business overseen by an independent regulator
- That the regulator be given powers to launch legal action versus business breaching the Code of Ethics
- A requirement for social networks companies to take down recognized sources of harmful content, including tested sources of disinformation
- Electoral reform in the U.K.
As for Facebook, the business released a declaration saying:
We share the committee’s issues about incorrect news and election stability and are pleased to have made a significant contribution to their examination over the past 18 months, addressing more than 700 questions and with four of our most senior executives offering proof.
We are open to significant regulation and support the committee’s recommendation for electoral law reform. However we’re not waiting. We have actually currently made substantial changes so that every political advertisement on Facebook needs to be authorized, state who is paying for it and then is kept in a searchable archive for 7 years. No other channel for political marketing is as transparent and offers the tools that we do.