Belfast Telegraph

Facebook chief pledges to work with governments to regulate social media

Facebook’s European headquarters is in the Irish capital.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaving The Merrion Hotel in Dublin with Nick Clegg (right) after a meeting with politicians to discuss regulation of social media and harmful content (Niall Carson/PA)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaving The Merrion Hotel in Dublin with Nick Clegg (right) after a meeting with politicians to discuss regulation of social media and harmful content (Niall Carson/PA)

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has assured senior Irish politicians he will work with governments to establish new policies in a bid to regulate social media.

The Facebook boss met with Hildegarde Naughton, James Lawless and Eamon Ryan – three members of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News – at a hotel in Dublin to discuss plans on how to regulate the internet.

The firm’s founder and chief executive told the politicians that issues around child protection and age verification are of “huge concern” to him.

He also visited the technology giant’s offices as part of his visit to the Republic.

Facebook’s European headquarters is in the Irish capital.

Mr Zuckerberg refused to answer questions from the media about online child safety as he left the Merrion Hotel.

But according to the Irish Times, Mr Zuckerberg praised Europe’s introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which tightened up rules regarding data privacy.

The social network founder said GDPR was a good foundation that encoded a lot of important values around people being able to choose how their data is used, and at the same time making sure that companies have the ability to use information for safety purposes.

He added that it was almost inevitable that every country was going to want comprehensive privacy legislation.

Ms Naughton described the meeting as “positive and constructive”.

“We went through a number of issues including child protection and the need for a robust age verification system,” she said.

“He said it was an area of huge concern to him and that he is looking forward to working with law enforcement agencies and legislators in relation to that. We have to balance the state of privacy of users as well as safety.

“He stated he had a lot more work to do.

“Our committee is working on a number of pieces of legislation including an online safety commissioner as well as looking at and protecting democracy.

“I mentioned the importance around age verification because you have right now paedophiles online lying about their age and preying on young children and grooming them.

“This is something he acknowledged, he knew it was a problem and he stated that he wanted to work with law enforcement agencies and policy makers to make more robust laws.”

The International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News is made up of international parliamentarians and investigates issues like data privacy, safety, security and sharing.

The three TDs, who are also members of the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, have been vocal in demanding the regulation of social media platforms in recent years.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon has a number of inquiries ongoing into Facebook and associated organisations.

The TDs, who described Mr Zuckerberg as “quiet, unassuming, pleasant and smart”, held an hour-long meeting with him days after he called for increased government oversight of the internet in areas like harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

Mr Lawless said: “Our focus was also on electoral integrity and what has been happening around the world on the rules in managing election campaigns.

“He agreed legislation is needed, he is working on those internationally to be able to see who is running campaigns, who is paying for campaigns and who is being targeted.

“It shouldn’t be about the private companies dictating what goes online when it comes to democracy and child protection and safety, we as legislators have responsibilities to put in place rules that we think should be followed and dictating to companies about how behaviours are conducted online.”

Mr Ryan said: “I pressed him about the article he wrote on regulation and I made the point that it can’t be self-regulation it has to be European regulation and that has to include funding journalism and having a courts procedure rather than a self-appointed board to look at difficult decisions.”



From Belfast Telegraph