In yet another letter seeking to pry accountability from Facebook, the chair of a British parliamentary committee has pressed the company over its decision to adopt a policy on political ad that supports flagrant lying.
In the letter Damian Collins, chair of the DCMS committee, asks the company to explain why it recently took the decision to change its policy regarding political ads — “given the heavy constraint this will place on Facebook’s ability to combat online disinformation in the run-up to elections around the world”.
“The change in policy will absolve Facebook from the responsibility of identifying and tackling the widespread content of bad actors, such as Russia’s Internet Research Agency,” he warns, before going on to cite a recent tweet by the former chief of Facebook’s global efforts around political ads transparency and election integrity who has claimed that senior management ignored calls from lower down for ads to be scanned for misinformation.
“I also note that Facebook’s former head of global elections integrity ops, Yael Eisenstat, has described that when she advocated for the scanning of adverts to detect misinformation efforts, despite engineers’ enthusiasm she faced opposition from upper management,” writes Collins.
In a further question, Collins asks what specific proposals Eisenstat’s team made; to what extent Facebook determined them to be feasible; and on what grounds were they not progressed.
He also asks what plans Facebook has to formalize a working relationship with fact-checkers over the long run.
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the DCMS letter, saying the company would respond in due course.