Damian Collins, chair of the DCMS committee, has asked Facebook for clarification following a change its approach to political advertising.
Collins has written to Facebook’s Nick Clegg over the change and its proximity to a potential upcoming General Election.
“I note the recent change to Facebook’s rules, from banning ‘deceptive, false or misleading content’ to only banning adverts that “include claims debunked by third-party facet checkers, or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organisations with particular expertise”, writes Collins
“Why was the decision taken to change Facebook’s policy regarding political adverts, given the heavy constraint this will place on Facebook’s ability to combat online disinformation in the run-up to elections around the world, and a possible UK general election in particular?”
Facebook have dropped a ban on “deceptive, false or misleading content” in political ads.
— Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (@CommonsCMS) October 22, 2019
Clegg has not publicly responded to the questions submitted, but in September during a speech clarified that Facebook’s position allows politicians to post content that its other users would not be able to.
He said Facebook does not submit speech by politicians to its independent fact-checkers and that the social media giant will “generally allow it on the platform even when it would otherwise breach normal content rules.”
Though politicians would be allowed to post content that was not fact-checked, the firm did say it would ‘draw the line’ at any speech which could lead to real world violence and harm.
Clegg justified the position by asking if a tech giant’s interference with political content would be accepted by society.
“Would it be acceptable to society at large to have a private company in effect become a self-appointed referee for everything that politicians say?” he asked.