EU Commissioner Holds Facebook Liable For Disinformation

European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton advised Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that, if he and his company do not redouble efforts to rid the platform of disinformation, they will be subject to tougher rules. “When you are the [chief executive], at the end of the day, you are the only one to be responsible, no one else,” said Breton at an online event organized by the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE).  The two had a face-to-face meeting two months ago in Brussels.

Reuters reports that, during that earlier meeting, Breton told Zuckerberg “that he must adapt to Europe’s standards, and not the other way round.” “It’s a huge issue,” said Breton. “We have discussions with many persons including Mark and I really appreciate the efforts … At the end of the day, the mission of the [chief executive] is to listen to everyone, then to take a decision. At the end of the day, it will be Mark who will be responsible and nobody else.”

The European Commission “is currently drafting a digital services act that will rein in U.S. tech giants, especially those seen as gatekeepers to information.”

Bloomberg reports Zuckerberg noted that, “I don’t think there’s a question there’s going to be regulation.” “I think the question is whose framework is going to win around the world,” he said. “The best antidote to that is having a clear regulatory framework that comes out of Western democratic countries that becomes a standard around the world.”

He also acknowledged that, “we have a joint responsibility to help develop this.” Breton’s response was that, “if you understand our values, then you understand how you need to behave,” adding that “it required the company to not shut out rivals” and “be careful with democracy, be careful with disinformation.”

Breton, former Atos chief executive and former French finance minister, “often touts tough lines he’s taken in discussions with Silicon Valley chiefs … [and] Zuckerberg praised previous cooperation with Breton, including around the EU official’s push to get Facebook, Netflix and Google’s YouTube to reduce the quality of video streaming to relieve networks strained by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Related:
Why Is Facebook So Afraid of Checking Facts?, Wired, 5/14/20