Senior Facebook staff stabbed by UK parliament

British lawmakers took to Facebook Thursday (29/10) over the way the tech giant has responded to online security issues as European countries seek to rein in social media companies.

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s head of global security, defended the way his company handled internal research on how harmful Instagram is to teens, when questioned by legislators.

Davis said Facebook basically supported the UK in making security laws and was interested in regulations that could give public officials the ability to hold companies accountable.

The hearing took place in the same week as the US Senate panel hearing that castigated YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat.

The companies are making little commitment to US legislation aimed at strengthening child protection from online harms, which members of Congress say range from eating disorders to overtly sexual content to material promoting addictive drugs.

Facebook rapporteur Frances Haugen also appeared before a British parliamentary committee this week. He told lawmakers that Facebook’s system was exacerbating hateful sentiment online and that the company was not doing much to fix the problem.

He said there is less time left to regulate social media companies that use artificial intelligence (AI) systems to determine what content users see.

Facebook rapporteur Frances Haugen (R) speaks before British lawmakers in London, Oct. 25.

Facebook rapporteur Frances Haugen (right) speaks before British lawmakers in London, Oct. 25.

Haugen is a former Facebook data scientist, who copied the company’s internal research documents and gave them to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The document was also provided to a number of media outlets, including the Associated Press, which publishes stories about how Facebook prioritizes corporate profits over security and hides its own research from investors and the general public.

The UK’s online security bill requires regulators to ensure technology companies comply with rules requiring them to remove harmful or harmful content. Otherwise, they should be prepared to face fines of up to 10% of their annual global income.

The European Union is also drafting similar digital regulations. [rd/ka]

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