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France Welcomes Zuckerberg with Threat of Sweeping New Regulations

The company says it is working on solutions, and the French regulators praised Facebook for hiring more people and using artificial intelligence to track and crack down on dangerous content

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (L), and French President Emmanuel Macron meet at at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, May 10, 2019. VOA

France welcomed Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Friday with a threat of sweeping new regulation. With Facebook under fire on multiple fronts, Zuckerberg is in Paris to show that his social media giant is working hard to limit violent extremism and hate speech shared online.

But a group of French regulators and experts who spent weeks inside Facebook facilities in Paris, Dublin and Barcelona say the company isn’t working hard enough.

Just before Zuckerberg met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, the 10 officials released a report calling for laws allowing the government to investigate and fine social networks that don’t take responsibility for the content that makes them money.

The French government wants the legislation to serve as a model for Europe-wide management of social networks. Several countries have introduced similar legislation, some tougher than what France is proposing.

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Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that he welcomed governments taking a more active role in drawing up regulations for the internet. VOA

To an average user, it seems like the problem is intractable. Mass shootings are live-streamed, and online mobs are spreading rumors that lead to deadly violence. Facebook is even inadvertently creating celebratory videos using extremist content and auto-generating business pages for the likes of the Islamic State group and al Qaida.

The company says it is working on solutions, and the French regulators praised Facebook for hiring more people and using artificial intelligence to track and crack down on dangerous content.

But they said Facebook didn’t provide the French officials enough information about its algorithms to judge whether they were working, and that a “lack of transparency … justifies an intervention of public authorities.”

The regulators recommended legally requiring a “duty of care” for big social networks, meaning they should moderate hate speech published on their platforms. They insist that any law should respect freedom of expression, but did not explain how Facebook should balance those responsibilities in practice.

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Facebook faces “nuanced decisions” involving content that is harmful but not illegal and the French recommendations, which set guidelines for what’s considered harmful. Pixabay

After meeting Macron, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that he welcomed governments taking a more active role in drawing up regulations for the internet. He made similar remarks earlier this year but has been vague on what kind of regulation he favors.

Facebook faces “nuanced decisions” involving content that is harmful but not illegal and the French recommendations, which set guidelines for what’s considered harmful, “would create a more consistent approach across the tech industry and ensure companies are held accountable for enforcing standards against this content,” Zuckerberg said.

The regulators acknowledged that their research didn’t address violent content shared on private chat groups or encrypted apps, or on groups like 4chan or 8chan, where criminals and extremists and those concerned about privacy increasingly turn to communicate.

Facebook said Zuckerberg is in France as part of meetings around Europe to discuss future regulation of the internet. Facebook agreed to embed the French regulators as an effort to jointly develop proposals to fight online hate content. Zuckerberg’s visit comes notably amid concern about hate speech and disinformation around this month’s European Parliament elections.

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The company says it is working on solutions, and the French regulators praised Facebook for hiring more people and using artificial intelligence to track and crack down on dangerous content. Pixabay

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Next week, the leaders of France and New Zealand will meet tech leaders in Paris for a summit seeking to ban acts of violent extremism and terrorism from being shown online. Facebook has faced challenges over privacy and security lapses and accusations of endangering democracy — and it came under criticism this week from its own co-founder.

Chris Hughes said in a New York Times opinion piece Thursday that it’s time to break up Facebook. He says Zuckerberg has turned Facebook into an innovation-suffocating monopoly and lamented the company’s “slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news.” (VOA)

Next Story

Facebook Loses its Place in Glassdoor’s ‘Best Places to Work’ List

The Top-100 list by Glassdoor is for large organisations or those with at least 1,000 employees. It bases its rankings on eight factors, including work/life balance, compensation and benefits and senior management, among others

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The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Mired in several controversies amid break-up calls from the US lawmakers, Facebook has once again slipped off Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” list for a second year in a row.

Facebook dropped to 23rd best place to work, falling 16 spots from last year’s position, and its award score fell from a 4.5 to 4.4 out of a perfect 5, according to the annual listing by the leading job website.

The top three spots are occupied by leading growth platform HubSpot, management consultancy firm Bain & Company and market leader in electronic signatures DocuSign, respectively.

Among the tech companies, Google is at 11th spot, LinkedIn at 12th, Microsoft at 21st, Salesforce at 34th, VMware at 36th, Adobe at 39th, Cisco at 77th, Accenture at 83th and Apple at 84th (the Cupertino-based iPhone maker slipped 13 spots from the last year’s list).

Amazon once again failed to enter the list of 100.

For Facebook, 2019 has been bad on the diplomatic front. Several US Senators have called for breaking up the social network amid repeated data breaches and privacy violations on the platform.

Facebook
Facebook has failed to comply with the subpoenas for more information related to the ongoing privacy investigation into its alleged privacy violations and Cambridge Analytica, the media has reported. Pixabay

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris has stressed that authorities should take a serious look at breaking up Facebook as the social network platform is a “utility that has gone unregulated”.

Another Democratic 2020 candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren has also stressed upon the possibility of breaking up Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, rejected these calls, saying the size of the social media giant was actually a benefit to its users and the security of the democratic process.

Zuckerberg has promised his employees to “fight and win” if Democratic presidential hopeful Warren wins the 2020 election and moves forward with her stated plan to break up the big US tech firms.

Also Read: Here’s What India’s Privacy Bill Requires from Social Media Firms

The company in July agreed to pay record-breaking $5 billion to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as fine for users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving millions of users.

The US FTC is also investigating Facebook for potential monopolistic practices.

The Top-100 list by Glassdoor is for large organisations or those with at least 1,000 employees. It bases its rankings on eight factors, including work/life balance, compensation and benefits and senior management, among others. (IANS)