Culture 3 min read

Facebook Explores Online Content Regulation Pitfalls in Whitepaper

EU was not impressed with Facebook's white paper about online content regulation and possible alternative to traditional publishing liability.

michelmond / Shutterstock.com

michelmond / Shutterstock.com

In a recent whitepaper, Facebook shares its vision of how online content regulation should work. But, the European Union thinks it may not be enough.

On Tuesday, Facebook published a 13-page whitepaper titled: “Charting the Way Forward: Online Content Regulation.” In the document, VP content policy Monika Bickert proposed four questions regarding regulating internet-based communication. These are:

  1. How can content regulation strike the right balance between reducing harmful speech and preserving free expression?
  2. Should regulation require internet companies to meet certain performance targets?
  3. How can regulations enhance the accountability of internet platforms?
  4. Should regulation define which harmful content should be prohibited on the internet?

The paper suggests that there should be global policies — rather than national — on what’s permissible on the internet.

It further stated that internet companies shouldn’t face any liability for content on their platform. Otherwise, such an action would limit free speech.

The document reads:

“Imposing traditional publishing liability would seriously curtail that impact by limiting the ability of individuals to speak. Legal experts have cautioned that holding Internet companies liable for the speech of their users could lead to the end of these services altogether.”

The whitepaper suggested an alternative to imposing traditional publishing liability.

It advised that companies should be required to provide standards and systems to combat illegal content on their platforms. The social media behemoth also argued that internet companies should have the flexibility to experiment with content moderation technology.

With that said, the whitepaper may not have impressed the European Union.

EU Reacts to Facebook’s Online Content Regulation Paper

The French commissioner that’s in charge of the bloc’s data strategy, Thierry Breton, rejected the plan.

After meeting with Mark Zuckerberg, Breton stated that Facebook was slow in proposing ways to remove illegal content from social media. He further warned that the European Union was preparing to act.

In a statement to the press, Thierry Breton said:

“It’s not enough. It’s too slow, and it’s too low in terms of responsibility and regulation.”

According to Breton, the EU would assess Facebook’s work in using AI for content regulation, and consider it. “If we see that it’s not what we need regarding our own standards, we will have to regulate and put this in our [Digital Services Act],” he added.

The commission is expected to release the Digital Service Act — legislation that could completely overhaul internet rules — later in the year.

Read. More: Why Facebook is Investing in Natural Language Processing

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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