Facebook documents, disclosed by whistleblower, urge the EU to accelerate social media regulations

Internal Facebook documents disclosed by whistleblower urge the EU to accelerate social media regula
Facebook has had quite the controversy thanks to the leaked internal documentation by ex-employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen. The whistleblower exposed documents showing the social media giant has been aware of the negative impact Instagram had on young users but still did nothing, among other controversial practices the company had. Now, The Wall Street Journal reports the documentation is urging EU officials to act in regulating social media.

EU Officials to accelerate regulations against social media thanks to the leaked Facebook internal documentation

The European Union is now set on accelerating and sharpening its plans to regulate social media giants and to restrict big technology companies. European Union policymakers and lawmakers have had a series of meetings with the ex-Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who earlier revealed documentation that suggested Facebook put profit first and then the safety of its users second.

These meetings with the whistleblower have reportedly forced the EU to start moving quickly to toughen the measures that were proposed in a bill last year. These measures are related to imposing stricter obligations on social media platforms and services.

This bill is currently only a draft. It will require large tech platforms to actively monitor and eliminate risks from content that is illegal and published on their platforms. If the social media companies fail to do so, hefty fines would be imposed on them by the European Union.

Thierry Breton, the EU's digital commissioner, stated that the social media situation that is ongoing right now resembles a "digital Wild West", and he added that the EU must quickly pass the legislation, and try to do that in the first half of 2022. He added that speed is crucial.

Whistleblower Frances Haugen was asked about the content of the internal Facebook documentation in a hearing before the EU parliament. The documents in question showed that despite that Facebook was aware of the way its systems cause harm, it was often found to act slowly to mitigate the risk and address the issues, as well as it has downplayed those issues in public.

These documents are now helping politicians in Europe and in the United States to pursue new legislation which should reduce these big tech companies' power. Politicians would also have to update decades-old laws that are currently shielding social media platforms from liability in regards to what their users are doing on their websites.

Recently, Haugen has also met with British and German officials on the matter, and she will be going to Paris for similar discussions later this week. According to her statement, the social media giant Facebook has done too little to prevent polarizing and extremist content, as limiting it would have users spend less time on the social media platform.

On the other hand, Facebook has claimed that although it is a business and makes a profit, the statement that they want to do that at the expense of their users' safety and wellbeing is a misunderstanding of its commercial interests. The blog post was written by Monika Bickert who is the VP of content policy in Meta (Facebook the company's new name).

Several EU lawmakers have stated that the documents provided by Haugen actually necessitate a social media bill that goes further than what it does in its current draft. Alexandra Geese, a Green Party member of the European Parliament said that hopefully, the disclosed documentation will inspire stronger transparency requirements and stronger enforcement that are currently in the bill, relating these companies and their practices.

According to the whistleblower herself, such legislation has the potential to become the industry's "gold standard" but it most certainly needs to avoid loopholes and have strong central enforcement to be credible.

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