United Kingdom lawmakers call for social media tariffs to curb ‘fake news’

United Kingdom lawmakers call for social media tariffs to curb ‘fake news’

Britain is facing a crisis in democracy caused by the systematic manipulation of data to target citizens with fake news, MPs have said.

The committee's report could lead to the approval of a new set of laws concerning the internet, an environment now heavily deregulated.

When the report is officially released Sunday, Facebook is expected to say that the parliamentary committee raises important issues, that the company agrees political advertising should be fair and transparent, and that Facebook will work closely with the British government to develop transparency tools. Former Vote Leave chief Dominic Cummings, who is set to be criticised for failing to give evidence on his campaigning techniques, last night launched a pre-emptive strike. But Mr Cummings called the report "fake news" when he published the leaked copy on Friday.

It also renewed calls for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to appear before the committee to answer "questions to which Facebook has not responded adequately", after he neglected to appear following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

The committee suggested a "new category of tech company" should be created, which was "not necessarily a platform or a publisher" but something in between.

The committee, however, has argued that "s$3 ocial media companies can not hide behind the claim of being merely a "platform", claiming that they are tech companies and have no role themselves in regulating the content of their sites". Nor are they publishers, since that model traditionally commissions and pays for content.

The world's largest social network has been "disingenuous" with United Kingdom lawmakers investigating fake news and Russian propaganda on social media platforms, says a report set for release that day, according to a Saturday story from The New York Times.

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Thus, the committee proposed a levy on tech companies in order to fund the extended responsibilities of regulators, as well as to create educational programmes and a public information campaign in order to assist people in identifying disinformation and fake news.

According to the committee, Mr Cummings was requested to participate in the inquiry in response to allegations made against the Vote Leave campaign, but he refused. Investments related to security and to addressing fake news "will significantly impact our profitability", CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the earnings conference call. "It is as if it thinks that the problem will go away if it does not share information about the problem, and reacts only when it is pressed", the report said.

"The MPs know Facebook has explained to them that VL COULD NOT HAVE used the notorious Facebook data acquired by Cambridge Analytica but they try to provide credibility to these conspiracy theories".

"Despite nobody ever producing any evidence for Carole (Cadwalladr - British investigative journalist)'s original loony conspiracy theory that I was secretly coordinating with Arron Banks, Bannon and Robert Mercer, the Committee also asks for yet another inquiry of this and of course they want the police involved to give credibility to their fantasies and legitimise their campaign for a second referendum".

The committee added that it had received "disturbing evidence" - some of which it had not published - of hacking, disinformation and voter suppression in elections.

The committee's final report is expected before the end of the year.

Facebook has been contacted for comment.

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