Regulation is a ‘big part’ of getting social media to a ‘better place’ | #socialmedia

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Facebook wants regulation to fix social media

Facebook (FB) is facing intense criticism over documents released to both The Wall Street Journal and “60 Minutes” by former employee Frances Haugen that dive into everything from Instagram worsening body images issues for teen girls to the company’s inability to tackle hate speech.

Haugen, who testified in the Senate on Tuesday, has said that Facebook puts profits ahead of the good of its users and implored lawmakers to regulate social media.

In a new interview with Yahoo Finance, Monika Bickert, Facebook VP of content policy, asserted that the documents released by Haugen have been mischaracterized. But she did agree that Congress should regulate social media companies like Facebook.

“We think regulation is a big part of getting this industry, and getting the public, and social media to a better place,” Bickert told Yahoo Finance.

Bickert isn’t the first Facebook official to call for regulation of the tech industry. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also called for more tech regulation, writing in a 2019 Washington Post op-ed that the “internet needs new rules.” And in a statement after Haugen’s testimony, Facebook policy communications director Lena Pietsch said “it is time for Congress to act,” and “create standard rules for the internet.”

Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Washington. (Drew Angerer/Pool via AP)

As Bickert put it, “You’ve seen this proactive call for regulation, time and time again, from Mark from others at the company … We’ve engaged with regulators around the world, including in the U.S., including in the UK, and France. We’ll continue to do that.”

Zuckerberg has also previously called for changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives websites that host user-generated content broad protection from legal liability for content posted on their sites. 

“From our perspective, Section 230 does two basic things. First, it encourages free expression, which is fundamentally important,” Zuckerberg told a Senate committee last year. “…Second, it allows platforms to moderate content. Without 230, platforms could face liability for basic moderation.”

Other tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, and Google, have also called for more regulation of their sector, though they have faced criticism for aiming to have as much influence over those laws as possible.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Sen. Amy Klobuchar asserted that tech company lobbyists had stymied new tech laws, specifically regarding privacy. Facebook itself spent $20 million lobbying lawmakers in 2020, according to The Washington Post.

“We have not done anything to update our privacy laws in this country,” Klobuchar said. “Why? because there are lobbyists around every single corner of this building that have been hired by the tech industry.”

By Daniel Howley, tech editor at Yahoo Finance.

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