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Facebook lambasted by UK parliamentary inquiry

Paul Brislen, Editor. 06 August 2018, 7:25 am

The UK parliamentary committee looking into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica's manipulation of the news media around the world has released a damning report  that says Facebook failed in its duty to oversee the platform it runs, turned a blind eye to ongoing abuses and refused to work with investigators in the UK.

Several matters have been referred to other UK authorities for further investigation, including hacking, bribery, possible money laundering, the company's involvement in the murder of an investigative journalist and its involvement with inciting racial hatred in Burma.

The report also points the finger at Cambridge Analytica's involvement in the UK's Brexit vote, as well as the US presidential election, not to mention the company's owners' alleged bribery of a politician in the Caribbean island nation of St Kitts.

The report also recommends sweeping changes to the way tech companies are treated in the UK including new auditing powers, sweeping reforms of "targetted" political advertising, tighter liability regulations, a new category for tech companies like Facebook which redefines social media operators that claim to be neither "platform" or "publisher".

While Facebook's role in New Zealand's political scene has been viewed as far more benign, the platform (or publisher) is New Zealand's most popular social media platform, with 80% of respondents to a Nielsen New Zealand study saying they engage with Facebook at some point in the past four weeks. Instagram, a Facebook entity, comes in at number three just behind YouTube.

Meanwhile, Facebook has apparently continued to decline to front up to the parliamentary committee, and continues to assert it did nothing wrong, despite the report's findings.

Facebook's shaes, which were as high as $US217 a share are now trading at $US177 each, and will possibly have more of an impact on Facebook's management of the situation than anything the UK parliament can throw at the company.


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