New Zealand’s Green Party is calling on the Government to hold Facebook accountable for its role in enabling behaviour which threatens democracy.
It says this should be achieved by strongly regulating data privacy and the spread of dangerous disinformation.
“Facebook has admitted it enables a range of harmful practices – including foreign interference in elections, hate speech and mass data-privacy breaches – yet it remains largely self-governing,” said Green Party spokesperson for Electoral Reform, Golriz Ghahraman.
Platform should ‘answer the tough questions’
She noted that the social media platform was finally appearing for the first time before a Parliamentary Committee in New Zealand and must therefore answer the tough questions about why the country should continue to allow it to profit significantly while repeatedly failing to protect the privacy and democratic rights of New Zealanders.
“New Zealand’s intelligence agencies and Electoral Commission have both identified the spread of disinformation on Facebook as a key democracy threat in last year’s election,” Ghahraman stated.
“Like the threat of radicalisation in online spaces, Facebook profits from associated paid advertising and helps spread malicious messages through its secretive algorithms.”
According to Ghahraman, if Facebook continues to be such a powerful, non-neutral and self-governing force in electoral politics, it should urgently release a transparent, detailed standard to protect against the very threat of disinformation.
Government must regulate electoral interference
“It is time our Government took proper steps to regulate electoral interference through the spread of disinformation, and finally legislate for our right to privacy,” she said.
In May, Facebook announced it was taking stronger action against pages, groups, accounts and domains sharing misinformation.
“Starting today, we will reduce the distribution of all posts in news feed from an individual’s Facebook account if they repeatedly share content that has been rated by one of our fact-checking partners. We already reduce a single post’s reach in [our] news feed if it has been debunked,” the platform said.
Russia and Iran tops for coordinated fake activity
Russia and Iran are the top two sources of coordinated fake activity on Facebook, the company said in a separate report also released last month.
“Facebook has removed more than 150 networks of coordinated fake activity since 2017. Twenty-seven networks have been linked to Russia, and 23 to Iran. Nine originated within the United States,” news broadcaster CNN said.
“The presence of fake and misleading content on social media became the dominant story dogging tech platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube following the 2016 [US] election, as revelations surfaced about Russia’s attempts to meddle in the US democratic process.
“By posing as US voters, targeting voters with misleading digital advertisements, creating false news stories and other techniques, foreign influence campaigns have sought to sow division within the electorate.”