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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

Famous Fitness Programme CrossFit Quits Facebook, Instagram Citing Security Concerns

The company has also accused the social networking giant of deleting the accounts of communities that have identified the corrupted nutritional science responsible for unchecked global chronic disease

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

Citing security concerns, famous fitness and lifestyle programme CrossFit has quit Facebook and Instagram.

Recently, Facebook deleted Crossfit’s “Banting7DayMealPlan” user group with 1.65 million followers without any warning or explanation that triggered the US-based fitness company to take the decision, which was further fuelled by public security complaints against the platform.

“All activities on CrossFit, Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were suspended as of May 22, as CrossFit investigates the circumstances pertaining to Facebook’s deletion of the ‘Banting7DayMealPlan’ and other public complaints about the social-media company that may adversely impact the security and privacy of our global CrossFit community,” CrossFit, Inc. wrote in a blog-post on Friday.

According to the post, complaints against Facebook and Instagram include collection and sharing of user-information and Facebook’s government collaboration for citizen surveillance programmes.

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FILE – The Instagram icon is displayed on a mobile screen in Los Angeles. VOA

Facebook selling user information, censoring news feeds, maintaining weak intellectual property (IP) protections and poor security protocols have also been listed as reasons why CrossFit decided to remove its presence from Facebook and its photo-messaging app Instagram.

“For these reasons, CrossFit, Inc. has placed Facebook and its associated properties under review and will no longer support or use Facebook’s services until further notice,” the post noted.

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The company has also accused the social networking giant of deleting the accounts of communities that have identified the corrupted nutritional science responsible for unchecked global chronic disease. (IANS)