COMMONS

Chair Damian Collins challenges Sir Nick Clegg over Facebook’s changes to political advertising

22 October 2019

Damian Collins has demanded answers from Facebook’s Sir Nick Clegg on rule changes to political advertising ahead of a possible UK general election.

Questions put to Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Affairs and Communications, focus on a decision by the platform to drop a ban on political advertising that have “deceptive, false or misleading content” instead only banning ads that “include claims debunked by third-party fact-checkers, or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organisations with particular expertise.” Facebook is also asked to explain why a website or page designed to promote the opinion or agenda of a political figure is now ineligible for fact-checking.

Facebook is warned that the change will place a heavy constraint on its ability to combat disinformation online ahead of elections, particularly ahead of a possible UK general election.

The letter highlights investigations by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, flagging that in future Facebook would be absolved of responsibility to identify and tackle disinformation in content posted by ‘bad actors’.

Sir Nick Clegg is also asked to address safety concerns raised by Home Secretary Priti Patel over Facebook’s decision to extend end-to-end encryption beyond WhatsApp to Instagram and Facebook Messenger.

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