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Facebook can't be Internet police: Nick Clegg

In an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais, Clegg said the company is working organizations that monitor whether something is true or not, and if there are exaggerations or false data.

Oct 06, 2019, 04.35 PM IST
LONDON: Facebook, which has made mistakes in handling user data, is working towards sanitizing its platform, but cannot be doing the job of policing the Internet, according to Facebook Vice President, Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg said on Sunday.

In an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais, Clegg said the company is working organizations that monitor whether something is true or not, and if there are exaggerations or false data.

"But we cannot be an Internet police saying what things are acceptable, or those that are absolutely true," Clegg said, adding that people forget that Facebook is very big but very young.

"Roger Federer was number one in tennis for the first time two days before Facebook started. Federer's life is longer than Facebook. In this time, Facebook has grown fast and is very popular. When I look at its evolution, I think it is a very young company with a very powerful technology," Clegg added.

It is no surprise that the company is facing questions that were not expected, he said.

"No one could imagine that the Russians would try to interfere in the US elections, nor that a Cambridge Analytica academic would sell user data. It is no surprise that there is skepticism. We made mistakes," he told the newspaper.

As Facebook faces mounting scrutiny over its privacy and content moderation practices, the company has decided to construct a new independent "Oversight Board" like an internal "Supreme Court" that will review appeals over controversial posts from both the social networking giant and its users.

The system for users to initiate appeals to the board will be made available over the first half of 2020.

"The goal is to minimise errors and falls, but we must not believe that we can eliminate errors or data leaks. Every time there is an interruption of services we have to know why, solve the problem and do what we can to prevent it from happening again," Clegg elaborated.

Every day, 100,000 million messages are sent through Facebook's networks.

On a question regarding breaking the company up, Clegg said it is more important to regulate the company rather than dividing it.

"Imagine we remove WhatsApp from the group. That would not change the problems of privacy, extremism, intervention in the elections... Now we can use the data we have from Facebook to identify criminals who are using WhatsApp," said Clegg.

In 2018, the European Commission promoted a self-regulation of the platforms to avoid interference in the elections, but, once the votes were passed, the reports have stopped being submitted despite the agreement being still in force.

"Every day, we block a million fake accounts. The dimension of the problem is huge. Most are bots and we have sophisticated systems to block content that is not acceptable, such as terrorist content," the Facebook executive noted.

Also Read

India second in seeking user information from Facebook

Why Facebook passed on buying the predecessor to TikTok

Facebook to invest in tech startups in India

Facebook hit by 'tsunami' of bogus political news: NGO

Russian disinformation campaign targeted Africa: Facebook

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