Sunday 25 August 2019

Government TD meeting Zuckerberg wants Facebook to require passport or PPS number

Hildegarde Naughton. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Hildegarde Naughton. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Irish people should be required to submit a passport or PPS number to join Facebook, a government TD meeting Mark Zuckerberg today says.

Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton is one of three TDs due to lobby the founder of the social networking giant today during Mr Zuckerberg’s visit to Dublin.

She told RTE’s ‘Today With Sean O’Rourke’ programme that eye-scanning may also be a technology that Facebook might consider using on Facebook account holders, to verify their age.

Ms Naughton, a TD for Galway and South Mayo, says that one of her main priorities is to tighten Facebook’s age-verification process to help protect children.

“Facebook can immediately put in place age-verification tools and they don’t need to wait for any government action on that,” she told the RTÉ programme.

“There are people online who are pretending to be children.”

Ms Naughton is one of three Irish TDs who are members of a cross-parliamentary International Grand Committee, set up to explore ways of fighting ‘fake news’ online. The committee has demanded that Mr Zuckerberg attend a hearing in the House Of Commons in Westminster, which Mr Zuckerberg has so far declined to do.

The other two Irish parliamentary members of the Grand Committee are James Lawless (Fianna Fail) and Eamon Ryan (Green Party).

Mr Lawless said that he will raise the issue of political advertising online.

“In our country, the electoral acts haven’t caught up with online political advertising,” he said. “But Facebook does have a responsibility here too.”

Mr Zuckerberg visits Dublin as part of a tour of Europe to discuss policy and other matters.

On Monday, the Facebook founder posted a video interview with Mathias Döpfner, the chief executive of Germany’s largest news publisher, Axel Springer.

In the video, Mr Zuckerberg hinted that Facebook may soon build a section for paid journalism on its platform.

This might take the form of a “news tab to surface more high-quality news”, he said, adding that Facebook could “potentially have a direct relationship with publishers to make sure that their content is available, if it’s really high-quality content”.

A licensing fee of could emerge, he said.

“That’s definitely something that I think we should be thinking about here because the relationship between us and publishers is different in a surface where we’re showing the content on the basis of us believing that it’s high-quality, trustworthy content,” said Mr Zuckerberg in his interview with Mr Döpfner.

The move comes after Mr Zuckerberg wrote an op-ed jointly published in The Sunday Independent and Washington Post, setting out ideas for how harmful content, political misinformation and privacy might be dealt with.

In the piece, he said that Facebook may now have too much power of online speech. He called on national legislators and regulators to pass more specific laws on what defines harmful content and illicit political content.

Last week, Facebook announced that it would require a new ‘paid for by’ sticker on ads placed on Facebook for the upcoming European Parliamentary elections. The company is introducing the transparency move having repeatedly come under fire over disinformation that is seeded on the platform.

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