Big tech companies need stronger regulation, Facebook executive says

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy,  believes that 'government regulation can establish standards all companies should meet'
Big tech companies need stronger regulation, Facebook executive says

Facebook has been publishing figures on how it deals with harmful content, including how much of it is seen and taken down, for the past three years. File Picture: PA

The tech industry “needs regulation” because it should not be left to make the rules on issues including harmful online content on its own, a Facebook executive has said.

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy,  believes that “government regulation can establish standards all companies should meet”.

Her comments come as tech giants and some of their staunchest critics head to the UK Parliament this week to talk about new rules to deal with harmful content online.

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

British Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said that online hate has “poisoned public life” and the Government had been spurred to re-examine its upcoming Online Safety Bill in the light of the death of David Amess in his constituency last week.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Ms Bickert stated: “While there will no doubt be differing views, we should all agree on one thing: the tech industry needs regulation.

“At Facebook we’ve advocated for democratic governments to set new rules for the internet on areas like harmful content, privacy, data, and elections, because we believe that businesses like ours should not be making these decisions on our own.

“The UK is one of the countries leading the way with wide-ranging proposals on everything from hate speech to child safety and, while we won’t agree with all the details, we’re pleased the Online Safety Bill is moving forward. ”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries (Joe Giddens/PA)

Ms Dorries has said that the killing of David Amess may not have been stopped by a crackdown on online abuse, but it had highlighted the threats faced by people in the public eye.

Calls have been made for social media companies to hand over the data more quickly and rapidly remove the content themselves. 

Facebook has been publishing figures on how it deals with harmful content, including how much of it is seen and taken down, for the past three years. The firm is also independently audited.

Ms Bickert wrote: “I spent more than a decade as a criminal prosecutor in the US before joining Facebook, and for the past nine years I’ve helped our company develop its rules on what is and isn’t allowed on our platforms.

“These policies seek to protect people from harm while also protecting freedom of expression.

“Our team includes former prosecutors, law enforcement officers, counter-terrorism specialists, teachers and child safety advocates, and we work with hundreds of independent experts around the world to help us get the balance right.

“While people often disagree about exactly where to draw the line, government regulation can establish standards all companies should meet.”

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