British research committee compares Facebook

Feb

18

2019

British research committee compares Facebook with ‘digital gangster’
Large technology companies fail in the duty of care they have towards users when it comes to malicious content and respecting privacy rights, is in a British parliamentary investigation into disinformation and fake news. The report argues for better legislation.

According to Damian Collins , chairman of the responsible committee, three major threats to British society can be identified after the investigation. First he mentions democracy that is under pressure of disinformation that is sent to citizens in a ‘malicious and incessant’ way, as well as personalized ‘ dark adverts ‘ from unidentifiable sources. Collins says these messages are distributed through large social media platforms, often from agencies from countries like Russia.

The other two threats affect large technology companies that fail in their duty of care towards citizens and companies ‘like Facebook’ that have a large market power. As a result, these companies can make money by ‘teasing’ smaller companies and developers who use the platform, says Collins. Companies like Facebook should not behave in the online world as ‘digital gangsters’ who think they are above the law, according to the research .

The study advises the British government to introduce a mandatory ethical code of conduct for technology companies. This would then state when content is malicious. An independent supervisor should ensure that the companies comply with this code, otherwise this authority should be able to take legal action. Companies must also become legally obliged to do more against harmful or illegal content. Platforms that do not participate in this must, according to the plan, receive ‘big’ fines. “Companies can not hide behind the claim that they are only platforms and therefore have no responsibility for the content,” says Collins.

The report is to a large extent focused on the commercial practices of Facebook, before, after and during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “We believe that Facebook would deliberately frustrate our research by giving us incomplete, unfair and sometimes misleading answers, even if Zuckerberg does not believe he is responsible for the British parliament, he is still for the billions of users around the world. There are still questions he refuses to answer, instead he sends representatives who do not have the right information Zuckerberg repeatedly fails to show that he has the right level of leadership and personal responsibility to be the boss of one of the largest companies in the world “, says Collins.

The Committee report is based on a year and a half of research. Representatives from nine countries cooperated in the investigation, including Belgium and France, for example, in addition to the United Kingdom.

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