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Here’s Why Facebook Was Labelled ‘Digital Gangsters’ by UK Lawmakers

In its final report, the committee called for stricter regulation to make Facebook end spread of disinformation on its platform

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A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

During its 18-month-long investigation into disinformation and “fake news”, a committee of the UK Parliament invited Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before it three times. Zuckerberg didn’t show up once.

This was, however, not the only reason why in its final report on Monday, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee accused Facebook of behaving like “digital gangsters” in the online world.

Facebook, which has over 2.32 billion users globally and made $40 billion in revenue in 2017, considers itself to be ahead of and beyond the law, according to the committee which concluded that the social networking giant intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws.

“Mark Zuckerberg continually fails to show the levels of leadership and personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies,” Damian Collins, Chair of the DCMS Committee, said in a statement.

In its final report, the committee called for stricter regulation to make Facebook end spread of disinformation on its platform.

“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 everyday,” Collins said.

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Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. VOA

The report highlights Facebook documents obtained by the committee relating to a Californian court case brought by US-based app developer Six4Three.

Through scrutiny of internal Facebook emails between 2011 and 2015, the report found evidence to indicate that the company was willing to override its users’ privacy settings in order to transfer data to some app developers.

The investigation found that Facebook was willing to charge high prices in advertising to some developers, for the exchange of data, and starve some developers — such as Six4Three — of that data, contributing to them losing their business.

The now-defunct start-up Six4Three alleged that Facebook collected information on users and their friends through its apps.

Launched in 2017, the inquiry intensified after the Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting scandal became public.

In the 108-page report, the UK lawmakers accused Facebook of continuing to prioritise shareholders’ profits over users’ privacy rights.

“We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee’s recommendation for electoral law reform,” Karim Palant, Facebook’s UK public policy manager, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Social media companies have come under increased scrutiny of policymakers around the world for their failure to curb hate speeches and arrest the spread of false information in their platforms.

In India, a parliamentary committee summoned Twitter Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jack Dorsey to appear before it on February 11 over allegations of the social media site discriminating against “nationalist” posts on its platform.

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Dorsey refused to appear before the committee citing “short notice” period, forcing the committee to again summon the Twitter CEO to appear before it on February 25.

While it is still not clear whether Dorsey will show up this time, reports suggests that the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology (IT) of the Indian Parliament could also invite Facebook and WhatsApp executives to appear before it. (IANS)

Next Story

Mass Shooting in New Zealand: Facebook Still Working to Remove All Videos

The attack came during Friday prayers when the Al Noor Mosque and the nearby Linwood Mosque were filled with hundreds of worshippers. The victims of Friday's shooting included immigrants from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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Facebook
The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square, In this March 29, 2018. VOA

Facebook is continuing to work to remove all video of the mass shooting in New Zealand which the perpetrator livestreamed Friday, the company said Sunday.

“We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues,” Mia Garlick of Facebook New Zealand said in a statement Sunday.

Garlick said that the company is currently working to remove even edited versions of the original video which do not contain graphic content, “Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities.”

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Facebook’s most recent comments follow criticism of the platform after the shooter not only livestreamed the 17 graphic minutes of his rampage, using a camera mounted on his helmet, but also had posted a 74-page white supremacist manifesto on Facebook. Pixabay

In the 24 hours following the mass shooting, which left 50 people dead, Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of the attack, of which 1.2 million were blocked at upload, the company said.

Facebook’s most recent comments follow criticism of the platform after the shooter not only livestreamed the 17 graphic minutes of his rampage, using a camera mounted on his helmet, but also had posted a 74-page white supremacist manifesto on Facebook.

Earlier Sunday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference that there were “further questions to be answered” by Facebook and other social media platforms.

FILE - New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks on live television following fatal shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks on live television following fatal shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. VOA

“We did as much as we could to remove or seek to have removed some of the footage that was being circulated in the aftermath of this terrorist attack. Ultimately, though, it has been up to those platforms to facilitate their removal and support their removal,” she said.

The attack came during Friday prayers when the Al Noor Mosque and the nearby Linwood Mosque were filled with hundreds of worshippers. The victims of Friday’s shooting included immigrants from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia. (VOA)