On February 17, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee of the UK Parliament concluded its 18 months long investigation into Facebook and its privacy practices. In its final report, the committee infers that Facebook is not fit to govern itself any longer and suggested that the government plays an active role in policing the social media giant.
The report called for the following:
- Tech companies should develop and implement a code of ethics, which would be supervised by an independent regulator
- The regulator should have the authority to take legal action if those companies breach the code The government must reform the electoral laws and rules regarding overseas involvement in domestic elections
- Social media companies must be forced to take down known sources of harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation
- Taxing tech companies that operate within the UK to help fund the Information Commissioner’s Office – the regulatory office in charge of upholding information rights – and any new regulator set up to supervise them.
In effect, the report lays the foundations for legislation that would turn these requests into law.
The Zuckerberg Roast
The committee had some pretty harsh words for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, labeling him a failed leader. “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,” the committee noted, adding that 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.”
The report comes at a time when Facebook looks to be finally facing real consequences for its actions, or lack thereof, regarding its appalling behavior when it comes to the privacy and security of its users. Just last week, it was revealed that a US regulatory body, the Federal Trade Commission, was in negotiations with Facebook over a multi-billion dollar out of court settlement regarding its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.