Facebook suggests ‘new rules for the internet’

Rob Waugh
Contributor
Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg arrives for a meeting with European Commission vice-president in charge for Values and Transparency, in Brussels (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

After years mired in privacy scandals, Facebook has suggested that it wants to work with governments on ‘new rules for the internet’. 

The social media giant - which has been under fire over ‘fake news’ and hate speech online - published a set of recommendations for online content regulation.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for “good regulation” on social media companies. 

Facebook published recommendations for future regulation, which suggest placing more accountability on companies to do content moderation.

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Facebook argues this will be a strong incentive for firms to be more responsible.

Some internet users were scathing about Facebook’s proposals, referencing previous privacy and election scandals which have involved the company. 

Last week, the Government published early proposals for new online harms regulation, including placing broadcasting regulator Ofcom in charge of holding internet companies to account should they fail to uphold a duty of care to users.

Sharing the company's guidelines on Twitter, Facebook's head of global affairs and communications Sir Nick Clegg said: "Facebook wants to work with policymakers to create new rules for the internet.

"We published a White Paper that offers five principles that could frame content regulation, especially outside the US, that keeps the internet safe and protects free expression."

The guidelines suggest regulations should "respect the global scale of the internet and the value of cross-border communications" and encourage coordination between different international national regulators, as well as look to protect freedom of expression.

In terms of enforcing new rules, it also calls on regulators to develop an understanding of technology which still allows technology firms to innovate rather than issuing blanket bans on certain processes or tools, and asks regulators to take into account the "severity and prevalence" of harmful content in question, its status in law and efforts already underway to address the content.

Writing in the Financial Times, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said the company supported the need for new online regulation even if it damaged Facebook financially.

"I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook's business in the near term but it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term," he said.

"These are problems that need to be fixed and that affect our industry as a whole. If we don't create standards that people feel are legitimate, they won't trust institutions or technology.

"To be clear, this isn't about passing off responsibility. Facebook is not waiting for regulation; we're continuing to make progress on these issues ourselves.

"But I believe clearer rules would be better for everyone. The internet is a powerful force for social and economic empowerment. Regulation that protects people and supports innovation can ensure it stays that way."