British lawmakers urge tougher rules for Facebook, Twitter

By Susan McFarland

July 28 (UPI) -- A British parliamentary committee said government officials should hold social media companies responsible and liable for harmful, illegal content on their platforms.

In the report, the committee said misinformation and fake news is threatening democracy. It was given to news organizations and embargoed until Sunday, but was leaked by Dominic Cummings, the campaign director of the Vote Leave group.


Cummings, whose group is criticized in the report for "contemptuous" behavior, posted the leaked version on his personal blog and called it "fake news."

The report comes after months of investigation into misinformation, social media companies and elections in Britain. The committee researched political advertisements, the British data firm Cambridge Analytica, the Brexit vote, election law and interference by Russia in Britain's politics.

Recommendations include new taxes and fines for social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter, and for the government to create clear, legal liability for tech companies to act against harmful and illegal content.

The report said the committee wants Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to come to a hearing to be questioned about how and whether Russia used its platform to influence voters.


Facebook's Vice President for Policy Richard Allan said in a statement the report raises some important issues and Facebook shares the same goals as the committee, agreeing changes are needed.

"We will work closely with the UK Government and Electoral Commission as we develop these new transparency tools," Allan said.

The committee also recommended the government stop using "fake news," because the phrase can mean everything from purposely misleading information to information people do not agree with.

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