Comment regularly on Facebook?

By Alexandre Piquard

Published on November 08, 2021 at 05:37 – Updated on November 08, 2021 at 19:02

“Facebook needs to be regulated. » This is the message that Frances Haugen was to convey to the elected representatives of the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee on Monday 8 November. A certainty that the American should appear before the French deputies and senators, Wednesday, then Thursday during an interview with Cédric O, Secretary of State in charge of the digital transition. The former employee of the social network has become a whistleblower already called for reforms in front of American, British or German parliamentarians. Listen to this engineer “to enrich the democratic discourse and our current legislative work”, revealed committee chair Anna Cavazzini (Greens/EFA). Mme East Haugen “a catalyst for change”, had already appointed a US senator.

The “Facebook Files”, a dive into the workings of the “likes” machine

The “Facebook Files” are several hundred internal Facebook documents copied by Frances Haugen, an algorithm specialist, when she was an employee of the social network. They were provided to the US regulator and Congress, then forwarded by a US parliamentary source to several media, redacted the personal information of Facebook employees. In Europe, these media are, in addition to The worldthe german daily Suddeutsche Zeitungthe WDR and NDR television channels, the Tamedia Group, Thing, Berlingske and OCCRP.

They show that Facebook is devoting more resources to limiting its harmful effects in the West, to the detriment of the rest of the world. They certify that these effects are known internally but that the warning signals are not always taken into account. Finally, they prove that Facebook’s algorithms have sometimes become so complex that they seem to escape their own authors. Find all our articles by clicking here.

Sure, but what to do? The “Facebook Files”, these internal documents transmitted by Mme Haugen to regulators and consulted in particular by The world, have shown shortcomings in hate speech moderation systems, particularly outside the United States, side effects of algorithms, which eliminate divisive speech… This news meets the work already underway on both sides of the Atlantic to supervise the digital giants. But the tracks put forward still arouse debates, which Facebook feeds, while saying “more regulation”.

  • Strengthening Accountability

Attempts to frame Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook, recently renamed Meta), as well as Twitter, YouTube or TikTok, have often targeted their liability. Indeed, social networks are considered as hosts and cannot be worried about the publications of their users, unless this content has been reported.

The European DSA will require social networks to put in place “reasonable, proportionate and effective” security measures, then to publish the number of content removed, the reason…

Certain policies would like to limit this protection, enshrined in the e-commerce directive of 2000 in Europe and section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 in the United States. But these initiatives have come up against a dialogue of the deaf between American Democrats and Republicans, with some accusing Facebook of being too lax on hate speech, others of “censor” conservative voices.

Above all, making social networks responsible could push them to “supercharger” legal content and to limit freedom of expression: this is what the French Constitutional Council recalled by invalidating, on June 18, 2020, the obligation to withdraw within twenty-four hours the manifestly illegal content provided for in the proposal law by Laetitia Avia (La République en Marche, Paris).

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