Facebook must face the same regulation as other media outlets, says former Tory digital minister
Facebook is not capable of regulating itself and should be subjected to strict government oversight, the former minister for digital and culture has said.
Tory MP Ed Vaizey today waded into the debate around regulation of big tech companies, saying Facebook must take responsibility for the content published on its platform.
Read more: Social media sites should have legal duty over child safety, says children’s commissioner
“For many, many years now it's been clear that companies like Facebook exist in the public sphere just as a broadcaster like the BBC does; they publish material and the vast majority of it is very helpful to us as consumers but some of it is extremely harmful,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.
The calls, which come on the company’s fifteenth birthday, follow growing pressure on social media sites to better police the material posted by its users.
The science and technology committee last week published a report stating the companies must be subjected to a legal duty of care to help protect young people.
The Children’s Commissioner also penned an open letter calling on social media firms to take legal responsibility for user safety after the suicide of a 14-year-old girl who had viewed self-harm material on Instagram.
The government has yet to introduce substantial legislation around social media, but is due to publish a white paper on the issue in the coming months.
“The real change will come if the US government acts. That is where a lot of these companies are based, that is where regulation can have a real impact – be it about privacy or competition,” Mr Vaizey said.
The comments come days after two major fact-checking firms announced they have cut ties with Facebook in a major blow to the site’s war on misinformation posted on its platform.
Read more: Social media firms could face ban for harmful online content
Associated Press and Snopes said they are no longer working with the social media company to verify information posted on the site and flag so-called fake news, the BBC reported.
But Facebook has retained its UK fact-checking service, which launched last month with charity Full Fact.
The tech firm last week defied criticisms to deliver strong fourth quarter revenue growth, boosted by growth at Instagram and increased advertising earnings.