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British MPs Call for Confronting Fake News

British MPs Call for Confronting Fake News

Wednesday, 20 February, 2019 - 06:45
The Elizabeth Tower, which houses the Great Clock and the 'Big Ben' bell, is seen above the Houses of Parliament, in central London, Britain August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
British MPs have called to enhance regulations applied on social media platforms, and mainly Facebook, in order to prevent it from spreading fake news and acting like "digital gangsters".

“We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and people. The age of inadequate self-regulation must come to an end," Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said in a report published this week.

According to AFP, Collins added that "the rights of the citizen need to be established in statute, by requiring tech companies to adhere to a code of conduct written into law by Parliament, and overseen by an independent regulator.”

This committee had focused on Facebook's behavior for several months, as part of its investigation into "fake news" and its impact on the latest elections in Britain including the referendum on Brexit in June 2016. The 100-page report stressed that "companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like 'digital gangsters' in the online world."

The report also urges the British government to carry on an "independent investigation" into the "foreign interference" and particularly the Russian role in spreading misinformation during the Brexit referendum, the early legislative elections in 2017 and into the referendum on Scotland's independence in 2014.

Facebook is involved in several cases, like the accusation of Russia of using it to interfere in the US presidential elections in 2016, the Cambridge Analytica scandal that exploited the platform's users' data for political aims, along with a security gap that uncovered millions of its accounts.

According to the German News Agency, the report called for a compulsory code of ethics that determines what could be acceptable or unacceptable on social media platforms. The code should be overseen by an independent regulator.

The committee also called for a change in Britain's electoral law to counter changes in electoral campaigning and to ensure absolute transparency of online political campaigns.

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