The United States isn’t the only global superpower that has had to confront growing problems involving the largely unregulated realm of social media in recent years. Although the U.S. may have been hit the worst regarding 2016’s controversial presidential election and subsequent reports involving Cambridge Analytica’s mining of user data, Mother England has also had her fair share of problems.
The Brits formed a parliamentary committee in part as a reaction to the woes of the US, as government officials grew suspicious that similar meddling may have taken place in regards to the infamous Brexit vote, which resulted in the United Kingdom withdrawing itself from the European Union. Studies have shown that Kremlin-owned media outlets released an impressive 261 articles supporting Brexit in the weeks and months leading up to the June 2016 referendum. Somewhat astoundingly, these articles reached more voters than did the two major pro-Brexit campaigns based in England.
Damien Collins, who acts as the chairman for the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has a relatively dire diagnosis for the state of affairs, saying
“We are facing nothing less than a crisis in our democracy…[namely] the systematic manipulation of data to support the relentless targeting of citizens, without their consent, by campaigns of disinformation and messages of hate.”
Many suspect that these are the exact same issues that plagued the United States, and Britain is not eager to follow in our footsteps. The committee charged with tackling these elusive issues (a committee which lacks legal power yet still holds a degree of influence) has recently released a list of reccommendations as to how to go about resolving complex matters involving Internet regulation and the responsibilities of tech giants to combat fake news. Among these proposals are the following:
“Tech companies should be forced to pay a levy to help fund the UK data regulator. The government should make sure personal data of UK citizens cannot be processed in the US by social media companies. Tech companies should do more to reveal those who abuse people online while hiding behind anonymous accounts.”
Unsurprisingly, Mark Zuckerberg is again at the center of these debates. The committee has called for him to testify before them, but so far they are out of luck.