Sunday 26 May 2019

Facebook 'deeply sorry' for failing to stop site being 'used for harm'

Facebook chiefs will appear before an Oireachtas committee today. Stock picture
Facebook chiefs will appear before an Oireachtas committee today. Stock picture
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Facebook chiefs will today describe themselves as "deeply sorry" for not doing enough to prevent their platform being "used for harm".

The social media giant's vice president for global policy, Joel Kaplan, plans to tell an Oireachtas committee that it understands recent criticisms from the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) Helen Dixon.

He will also say that what happened with Cambridge Analytica "represents a huge violation of trust".

"We know we have a responsibility to the Facebook community, and that people will only feel comfortable using our service if their data is safe," he will say.

Data held by Facebook on as many 87 million of its users may have been improperly shared by Cambridge Analytica who gathered it through an online application on the social media site.

Questions have been raised about whether this data was then used to target individuals in a bid to influence their vote in the US presidential election.

Mr Kaplan will say Facebook gave people "a powerful new tool to stay connected".

"But it's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools being used for harm as well. We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a mistake."

The DPC will also appear before the committee today to discuss "micro-targeting", which she defines as the use of personal data "to personalise that individual's online environment".

She says this can be done with "the aim of influencing the individual's views, perceptions and ultimately their future choices, actions and behaviours".

Ms Dixon says it is recognised by academics and regulators that a "possible outcome of micro-targeting is manipulation of individuals".

She will tell TDs and senators that "considerable research, evaluation and investigation will be needed to take place before concrete conclusions can be drawn about the true risks and consequences of this type of personal data processing".

Facebook will also offer tentative support for laws regulating online ads being pushed by Fianna Fáil's James Lawless.

Mr Kaplan says all advertising should be verified and should be clearly labelled to show who paid for them.

Irish Independent

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