Facebook Willing To Accept More Oversight and Regulation

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, CNN

Facebook Inc (Nasdaq:  FB) said that, while it has done its best to keep harmful content off its social media platforms, the company is willing to accept greater oversight and regulation to ensure its algorithms are working as intended. 

During an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, defended the company’s business practices following accusations from a whistleblower that it had put profits ahead of the well-being of the platform’s billions of users.  

“We need greater transparency,” Clegg said. “[Our algorithmic systems] should be held to account, if necessary, by regulation, so that people can match what our systems say they’re supposed to do and what actually happens.”

He also said Facebook is open to changing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that shields online platforms from being responsible for what third parties post on their sites.  

Any amendments, however, would be “contingent on them applying the systems and their policies as they’re supposed to,” Clegg said.

His interview came a few days after former Facebook product manager and whistleblower Frances Haugen testified on Capitol Hill that the company’s pursuit of profits harmed the mental health of young users.   

Haugen said Facebook is aware of several problems but either ignores them or does not resolve them and has been dishonest about its efforts to combat misinformation and hateful content.

Her accusations were supported by tens of thousands of pages of internal research documents she secretly copied before leaving her job in the company’s civic integrity unit.

During his CNN appearance, Clegg said, “I don’t think a company that only places profits above everything else would have done what we have done. We have invested over the last several years $13 billion in this kind of work – in making sure that our platform is safe to use. $13 billion, to put that in context, is more than the total revenue of Twitter over the last four years.”

Clegg added, “And we are constantly iterating in order to improve our products. As I say, we cannot with a wave of the wand make everyone's life perfect. What we can do is improve our products, so that our products are as safe and as enjoyable to use wherever we can — wherever we can improve them.”

Moving forward, Facebook has paused its plans for Instagram Kids, a service for children 13 and younger, Clegg said.

The company is also implementing new tools to divert users away from harmful content, to limit political content and to give parents more control on teen Instagram accounts, Clegg added.

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