Tightening EU tech rules could be global norm, Facebook whistleblower says

BRUSSELS, Nov. 8 (Reuters) – Draft EU rules forcing tech companies to do more to tackle illegal online content could become a global benchmark for a safer online world if tightened, told l ‘UE Frances Haugen, Facebook whistleblower (FB.O). lawmakers Monday.

Haugen, a former Facebook employee who worked as a product manager in the company’s civic disinformation team, accused the social media giant of repeatedly prioritizing profit over repression of speech hate and misinformation.

His testimony before a committee of the European Parliament comes after stops in London, Lisbon and Berlin, and at a time when European lawmakers are debating whether to strengthen the digital services law (DSA) proposed by the head of the struggle EU antitrust, Margrethe Vestager.

“The digital services law that is now before this Parliament has the potential to be a global gold standard,” Haugen said.

“It may inspire other countries, including mine, to enforce new rules that would protect our democracies, but the law must be strong and its enforcement strong. Otherwise, we will lose this unique opportunity to align the future of the country. technology and democracy, ”she told EU lawmakers.

Haugen said the DSA should be expanded to include online content that violates a platform’s terms and conditions, and should force platforms to take responsibility for risks beyond the spread of illegal content. such as electoral manipulation and misinformation about the harms of mental health.

Haugen said news media content should not be excluded from the rules because disinformation campaigns could still play into the system by exploiting the digital platforms used by publishers.

In a blog post ahead of the EU hearing, Facebook rejected Haugen’s claims that it prioritizes benefits over user safety.

“Contrary to recent claims about our company, we have always had the commercial incentive to remove harmful content from our platform,” Monika Bickert, vice president of content policy, wrote in the blog.

She said Facebook will spend more than $ 5 billion this year on safety and security.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton, who met with Haugen earlier on Monday, criticized increased lobbying by tech companies on the draft rules and urged lawmakers fighting over the scope of the DSA to intensify their deliberations.

“Speed ​​is everything. We need the DSA / DMA package adopted in the first half of 2022,” he said after the meeting.

The DMA, or Digital Markets Act, is the EU’s other flagship legislation that defines the dos and don’ts for global tech companies.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by David Clarke

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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