British Lawmakers Slam Facebook as 'Digital Gangster'

Site accused of knowingly breaking laws
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 18, 2019 12:11 AM CST
British Lawmakers Slam Facebook as 'Digital Gangster'
An activist wearing a Mark Zuckerberg mask stands outside Portcullis House in Westminster.   (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

British lawmakers issued a scathing report Monday that accused Facebook of intentionally violating privacy and anti-competition laws in the UK and called for greater oversight of social media companies. The report on fake news and disinformation on social media sites followed an 18-month investigation. The parliamentary committee that prepared the report says social media sites should have to follow a mandatory code of ethics overseen by an independent regulator to better control harmful or illegal content, the AP reports. The report called out Facebook in particular, saying that the site's structure seems to be designed to "conceal knowledge of and responsibility for specific decisions."

The report blasted Facebook as a "digital gangster" that is destroying democracy, the Guardian reports. "It is evident that Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws," the report states. It also accuses CEO Mark Zuckerberg of showing contempt for Parliament by declining numerous invitations to appear before the committee. The report by Parliament's media committee echoes and expands upon an interim report with similar findings issued by the committee in July. And in December, documents released by the committee offered evidence that the social network had used its enormous trove of user data as a competitive weapon, often in ways designed to keep its users in the dark. (More Facebook stories.)

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