Facebook says it won’t remove misleading content during Canada’s federal election
As a panel of international politicians grilled two Facebook executives in Ottawa, representatives for the social media giant said it won’t remove misleading content from the platform during Canada’s upcoming federal election campaign.
Representatives from 11 countries were gathered in Ottawa for a second day for the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy, which is examining the role of tech companies in safeguarding privacy and democratic rights.
Kevin Chan and Neil Potts, Facebook global policy directors, were peppered with questions about the company’s decision not to remove a doctored video of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intended to portray her as drunk and slurring her words.
“We are all aware that new technology is going to make the creation of these fake films or manipulated films so much easier,” said U.K. MP Damian Collins.
WATCH: Global News compares the real and altered video of Nancy Pelosi
Potts responded by reiterating Facebook’s position that the video has been flagged as false by third-party fact checkers and Facebook has reduced its distribution.
“I want you to answer the question as to why [Facebook], unlike YouTube, are not taking this film down,” Collins shot back.
WATCH: Facebook executives questioned on efforts to combat spread of altered videos
Both Potts and Chan said Facebook has taken a position to inform people when content is fake, but ultimately allow individuals to make their own decisions. They would, however, remove content from fake or spam accounts.
Conservative MP Peter Kent asked Chan if a similar video of a Canadian politician were created would the social media company remove it.
“Does Facebook defend the concept that it doesn’t have to be true to be your platform?” Kent asked.
Chan said it’s not Facebook’s job to determine the line between “free speech” and “censorship.”
“If lawmakers, in their wisdom, want to draw the line somewhere north or south of censorship, we would obviously oblige with local law,” Chan said.
Representatives from Google and Twitter also testified, but MPs were especially furious with Facebook over Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s failure to appear before the committee.
Earlier Tuesday, Canadian MPs voted unanimously to issue a second “standing summons” to Zuckerberg and Sandberg, compelling them to appear before the committee the next time either sets foot on Canadian soil.
In theory, if Zuckerberg or Sandberg were to come north for a conference, a bailiff would issue a summons as soon as they arrive on Canadian soil and order them to appear before the House of Commons access to information, privacy and ethics committee.
“Shame on Mark Zuckerberg and shame on Sheryl Sandberg for not showing up today,” MP Bob Zimmer said.
Just yesterday, Facebook and Microsoft both signed a declaration promising a dozen initiatives to protect the integrity of the Canadian election this fall — including removing phony social-media accounts and fake content.
Tech giants like Google and Twitter have not yet signed on.
— With files from Amanda Connolly
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