Facebook’s new privacy mantra an ‘excuse to dodge responsibility’ says MP

Facebook’s new privacy mantra an ‘excuse to dodge responsibility’ says MP
Source: Metro.co.uk
Date: 12-03-2019 Time: 07:03:17:am
Mark Zuckerberg published an essay last week about privacy on Facebook (AP)

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has laid out some extensive plans to make the social network more private.

But his motives have been blasted as an “excuse to dodge responsibility” by an MP.

Damian Collins, who chairs the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee said the comments were not in line with what he has seen about how Facebook operates.

Mr Collins previously led an inquiry into disinformation and fake news which focused on Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg published an essay entitled ‘A Privacy-Focused Vision For Social Networking’, in which he laid out plans to enable users of Facebook’s range of services to interact privately and wider use of end-to-end encryption to protect data.

But Mr Collins said that Facebook’s past record of mishandling user data meant many no longer trusted the social network. ‘Mark Zuckerberg’s public statements on privacy need to be consistent with his company’s practices on privacy behind closed doors,’ the MP said.

‘As we said in our report on Disinformation and ‘Fake News’, Facebook’s business model to date is based on a blatant disregard for people’s personal data and privacy and ruthlessly crushing other competitor apps, as evidenced by the Six4Three documents that we’ve published.’

Damian Collins, chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, speaks at a hearing in Portcullis House, London, where he repeated his call for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to give evidence to the committee's inquiry into fake news.
Damian Collins doesn’t have faith in Facebook’s new direction (PA)

‘It would be understandable if people do not trust Mark Zuckerberg’s sudden change of heart; from championing ‘open and more connected world’ to a ‘privacy-focused vision for social networking’ because the trust between Facebook users and the company has been eroded.’

The social network has been hit by a number of scandals in the last two years, including being used as a tool for attempted interference in the US presidential election of 2016, to the Cambridge Analytica data breach and the platform’s ongoing battle with misinformation.

‘Smarter, more robust regulation such as those recommended in our Disinformation and ‘fake news’ final report, currently being reviewed by the UK Government, is urgently needed,’ Mr Collins added.

‘Rather than a manifesto for privacy, his statement could easily become an excuse for Facebook to dodge responsibility for acting against harmful content and the accounts that promote it. This is not something we would want to allow to happen.’

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 06: In this photo illustration, the logo of the Messenger and Facebook applications are displayed on the screen of an Apple iPhone on April 06, 2018 in Paris. In the midst of turmoil following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook faces a host of questions regarding its privacy and confidentiality practices. Messenger, the messaging application launched by Facebook, is in the center of attention. Indeed, Facebook allows itself to analyze the links and images that users send to Messenger and even to read the messages exchanged if they are posted, in order to make sure that the contents comply with the conditions of use. This increased monitoring of Facebook within its messaging application was confirmed by Mark Zuckerberg a few days ago.(Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Facebook wants to unite messaging between WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram

In his note, which was posted to Facebook, Mr Zuckerberg said the platform wanted to make it possible to securely send and receive messages between any of its platforms – which include Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp – as well as SMS, in a bid to make it more convenient for users, but admitted there are ‘significant challenges’ to implementing such a system.

‘As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,’ he wrote. ‘Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks.’

epa06661596 CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg (C) takes his seat to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on 'Facebook: Transparency and Use of Consumer Data' on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 11 April 2018. Zuckerberg is testifying before the second of two Congressional hearings this week regarding Facebook allowing third-party applications to collect the data of its users without their permission and for the company's response to Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of US government officials last year about the Cambridge Analytica scandal (EPA)

The stance is a notable shift from public statements made by the Facebook boss in previous years – including in 2010 when he famously declared that privacy was no longer a ‘social norm’.

It also comes as lawmakers around the world continue to debate an increase in regulation around social media and internet companies – with the UK Government due to shortly publish a White Paper around online harms, which is expected to include plans for regulation of social networks.

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