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Facebook heavily criticised by UK parliament report

(Image credit: Image Credit: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock)

A British parliamentary committee has criticised Facebook and other online giants and called for greater control over web service companies.

In a report on online political disinformation and data misuse by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, Facebook is accused of deliberately breaking privacy and competition laws multiple times and should be subject to statutory regulation ‘urgently’.

In a report of 111 pages, Facebook is mentioned more than 500 times, and was referred to as a “digital gangster” on two occasions.

After investigating the company’s practices for a year and a half, the committee also said that Facebook deliberately obstructed the inquiries issued by the committee, and did next to nothing when Russia tried to interfere with other countries’ elections.

“Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day,” warned the committee’s chairman, Damian Collins.

Mark Zuckerberg was also accused of “contempt towards both the UK Parliament and the International Grand Committee’, by choosing not to appear before the Committee and by choosing not to respond personally to its invitations, instead sending juniors who were incompetent of answering its questions.

According to The Guardian (opens in new tab), Labour was quick to endorse the report.

“We need new independent regulation with a tough powers and sanctions regime to curb the worst excesses of surveillance capitalism and the forces trying to use technology to subvert our democracy,” said party deputy leader Tom Watson.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.