After a lengthy investigation, a British parliamentary committee has issued a report slamming Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s willingness and ability to spread online misinformation, as well as the company’s lack of responsibility and lack of accountability.
Damian Collins MP, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said of Facebook and similar tech companies, “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. Much of this is directed from agencies working in foreign countries, including Russia.
“The big tech companies are failing in the duty of care they owe to their users to act against harmful content, and to respect their data privacy rights.
“Companies like Facebook exercise massive market power which enables them to make money by bullying the smaller technology companies and developers who rely on this platform to reach their customers.
“These are issues that the major tech companies are well aware of, yet continually fail to address. The guiding principle of the ‘move fast and break things’ culture often seems to be that it is better to apologise than ask permission.”
This report comes on the heels of reports that Facebook allowed 150 companies to read and delete its users private messages, had 50 million users’ accounts hacked, provided 60 device makers access to users’ personal data, and admitted that most of its two billion users may have had personal data scraped.
“We believe that in its evidence to the Committee Facebook has often deliberately sought to frustrate our work, by giving incomplete, disingenuous and at times misleading answers to our questions,” Collins continued in the report.
“Even if Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t believe he is accountable to the UK Parliament, he is to the billions of Facebook users across the world. Evidence uncovered by my Committee shows he still has questions to answer yet he’s continued to duck them, refusing to respond to our invitations directly or sending representatives who don’t have the right information. 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.”
“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,” Collins added… correctly.