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Monday 18 February 2019

Facebook In The Crosshairs

The Commons DCMS Committee’s report into Fake News and misuse of social media platforms had been embargoed until midnight last night, but rumours were already circulating that Damian Collins and his Parliamentary colleagues had produced what was termed “explosive”. In the cold light of day, we can see just how explosive, although it depends on whose report one chooses to read.
While the BBC has reportedFacebook needs far stricter regulation, with tough and urgent action necessary to end the spread of disinformation on its platform, MPs have said … A Commons committee has concluded that the firm's founder Mark Zuckerberg failed to show ‘leadership or personal responsibility’ over fake news”, the report in the Guardian tells us what Collins and his pals really thought.
Damian Collins MP

From the headline “Facebook labelled 'digital gangsters' by report on fake news … Company broke privacy and competition law and should be regulated urgently, say MPs”, it is clear that the DCMS committee were unimpressed by Facebook’s behaviour, with Collins warning “Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day”.

And that is down to Facebook and other platforms like Twitter. But it is Mark Zuckerberg and his merry band who get both barrels, with the report accusing Zuck “of contempt for parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give evidence, instead sending junior employees unable to answer the committee’s questions”.
Guess who wants it all to just carry on as before?

It got worse: the report warned “British electoral law is unfit for purpose and vulnerable to interference by hostile foreign actors, including agents of the Russian government attempting to discredit democracy” and called for an investigation into interference in not only the 2016 EU referendum, but the 2017 General Election and the Scottish independence vote in 2014, too. Labour’s Tom Watson has backed the conclusions.
But, in an Oh-What-A-Giveaway moment that suggests someone has not been thinking this through, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have registered their unhappiness. Yesterday they toldCulture Secretary Jeremy Wright makes it clear that the Government will be pressing ahead with heavy-handed knee-jerk regulation of social media companies”. And today has brought more in the same vein.

Replacement Fawkes teaboy Tom Harwood bleated “Damian Collins calling to end platform neutral status for internet companies is beyond insane. If twitter, facebook, etc become classed as publishers then wave goodbye to the internet as we know it”.
To which the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr, who knows a little about the misuse of Facebook during that 2016 EU referendum campaign, shot back “Hot take from Guido journalist implicated in biggest electoral fraud of century & facilitated by Facebook”.

The ones already protesting about regulation are the ones already in the mire up to their necks. But good of the Fawkes teaboy to make sure we all know. Another fine mess.
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Steve Woods said...

According to a 2010 piece in The Register, way back in 2004 Mark Zuckerberg is reported to have referred to Facebook users as "dumb f*cks" in the platform's early days.

Facebook has never been a reputable business.

Anonymous said...

Love that clumsy sideswipe at "...agents of the Russian goverment..."

With, as usual, not one iota of evidence to support the implication. But this time not even an allegation.

Nor, of course, any mention of "...agents of the US government...", who presumably are too busy at the moment interfering in governments in the Caribbean and Central and South America, possibly even arranging one of its periodic mass murders in those areas of the world.

Why anybody wants to post personal details on Facebook and Twitter is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

"The U.S. government and Facebook are negotiating a record, multibillion-dollar fine for the company’s privacy lapses"
"A multi-billion dollar fine would amount to a reckoning for Facebook in the United States after a series of privacy lapses that may have put the personal information of its users at risk. Lawmakers have faulted the company for mishandling that data while failing to crack down on other digital ills, including the rise of online hate speech and the spread of disinformation from Russian operatives and other foreign actors." - The Washington Post February 14 2019