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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

Facebook Rolls Out an Update to Rank Comments on Public Posts to Make Conversations Meaningful

The users can moderate the comments on their post by hiding, deleting or engaging with comments

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Facebook will now start showing comments on public posts more prominently when the comments have interactions from the page or the person who originally posted or from friends of the person who posted. Pixabay

In a move to make conversations on public posts more meaningful, Facebook has rolled out an update where it will rank comments to promote those that are most relevant to users.

Facebook will now start showing comments on public posts more prominently when the comments have interactions from the page or the person who originally posted or from friends of the person who posted.

“We will continue to take other signals into account so we do not prominently show low-quality comments, even if they are from the person who made the original post or their friends,” Justine Shen, Product Manager at Facebook, said in a statement on Friday.

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FILE – The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

The users can moderate the comments on their post by hiding, deleting or engaging with comments. Ranking is on by default for Pages and people with a lot of followers, but Pages and people with a lot of followers can choose to turn off comment ranking.

ALSO READ: Facebook Now Expands Ad Breaks to Marathi, Punjabi, Kannada and Telugu

People who don’t have as many followers will not have comment ranking turned on automatically since there are less comments overall, but any person can decide to enable comment ranking by going to their settings.

“We want people to see safe and authentic comments. If a comment violates our community standards, we remove it. “We also take into account other signals, like engagement-bait, to address the integrity of information and improve the quality of comments people see,” said Facebook. (IANS)