UK government calls for Facebook and other social media to be regulated

UK government calls for Facebook and other social media to be regulated

Facebook and other big social media platforms have been investigated by UK lawmakers over the last 18 months.

After a long investigation, a new report from the UK parliament Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee (DCMS) has recommended that these social media platforms be regulated.

This comes after Facebook and other platforms had failed multiple times to protect its user's data and privacy, as well as from disinformation online.

Code of ethics

The full report from the DCMS recommends that an independent regulator and a code of ethics for the social media companies be set up. The regulator would have legal powers to give companies a fine if they fail to act upon harmful or illegal content posted on their platforms.

This is a huge deal since companies like Facebook have shied away from doing this for a long time. The report also recommended that electoral laws get overhauled so it becomes clear who is paying for political campaigns on digital platforms.

The report states: “Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a ‘platform’ and maintain that they have no responsibility themselves in regulating the content of their sites.”

Of the big social media companies, Facebook received the most criticism, specifically its data sharing practices where it gave deeper access to users' data for partners who had special deals with Facebook by overriding all user privacy settings.

This was only made worse after the committee also accused Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of "showing contempt" after he failed to show up to a hearing with international lawmakers last November.

“From the Six4Three case documents, it is clear that spending substantial sums with Facebook, as a condition of maintaining preferential access to personal data, was part and parcel of the company’s strategy of platform development as it embraced the mobile advertising world. And that this approach was driven from the highest level...” The report also says.

Facebook released its own statement to Mashable from it’s UK policy manager Karim Palant addressing the concerns.

“We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee's recommendation for electoral law reform. We also support effective privacy legislation that holds companies to high standards in their use of data and transparency for users," Palant said.

Staff Writer