back to article Here come the riled MPs (it's private, huh), Facebook's a digital 'gangster' ('disingen-u-ous'). Zuckerberg he is a failure (on sharing data)

Tech titans like Facebook, itself described as a "digital gangster", continually fail to address the risks their platforms pose to democracy – so the British government should regulate, MPs have said. The House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been conducting an inquiry into "fake news" – which it …

  1. Tomato42

    Thank $DEITY that the UK Is leaving the EU now so it will be at most able to show a threatening finger to Facebook or block it completely. /s

    1. macjules

      Yes, Zuck must be quaking in his boots at the prospect of a British threatening finger.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Remember - we are English, so it will be two fingers!

    2. Twanky


      Why are you crediting $DEITY? Seems a very mortal issue IMO.

  2. }{amis}{

    and investment into digital and data literacy for the public.

    Not that I don't broadly agree with this report but I do have to point out that the average member of the UK government knows less about tech than most toddlers these days.

    Glass houses and stones etc...

  3. Zog_but_not_the_first


    We should hold a referendum on it (Like or Dislike).

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Maybe...

      If it's FB style it's only "like".

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Now, will the government act...

    ... or will it be buried, like it seems anything to do with the Leave campaign and foreign funding has.

    1. Clunking Fist

      Re: Now, will the government act...

      But Soros didn't fund the leave campaign...

      See what I did there.

      Still, it's happening all over the world. Trump (hawk spit) is investigated for 2 years, every Stone overturned. Some beetles squashed like, err, bugs. But Clinton's insecure server and inexplicable enrichment "nothing to see, move along". Mr C's links to pervs, not investigated. "Move along sir". Nice.

      1. BigSLitleP

        Re: Now, will the government act...

        Are you actually joking? How many investigations have there been of Clinton? 7? And they found nothing.

        How many for Trump? 1? And so far 13 people have been indited. That Trump investigation seems like money well spent to me.

  5. tony2heads


    The sooner that everyone realises that everything on Facebook is either distorted or totally fake the better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fakebook

      Just like the tabloids.

      Pity they aren't getting their comeuppance for fake news.

      They've been doing for decades - how come they get a free pass?

  6. Harry Stottle

    The Hypocritic Oath

    Just one of many I screamed at the radio.

    Difficult to reign in my rage on hearing this story and the unquestioning BBC "Today" toadying of its proponents on this morning's show.

    Let's make it clear from the start that I recognise the reality of the problem they identify. Fake news, disinformation, targeted propaganda etc are all widespread evils not just hosted by the internet's big beasts but engineered as income streams.

    But for senior politicians to come out swinging about this issue is about as egregious as Hitler complaining about Stalinist purges.

    Someone needs to do a PhD on this shit but my starting hypothesis would be that, if we could find an objective way to measure Fake news and Disinformation and track it to its sources, the single largest contributors, throughout human history, have always been governments or those aspiring to govern.

    I was going to list examples but I doubt if any fellow Reg readers need them.

    I'll just comment on why the BBC and UK Parliament are so happily aligned on this issue. They both have a vested interest in portraying themselves as the gold standard of verifiable political fact. Commercial upstarts like Fakebook have no business muscling in on their pitch. A biblical quote featuring motes and eyes comes to mind...

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: The Hypocritic Oath


      Any judgements on fake news should start with the main wielders, the politicians and (what at least has been known since the early eighties as) spin.

      Colouring bad news to lessen the worst aspects has a certain fair enough, but what was ankle deep has now reached the hocks, and they wallow contentedly in it, oinking incessantly as they ingest it and crap it out on the public.

      Facebook is a monster of a gossip mill, I was going to say totally without ethics, but knowing how it started, a touch more negative than positive. However it's the everyday humdrum citizen who buys into it, even feeds the monster.

      Those most up in arms about it, traditonal purveyors of news, and politicians with a claim to the last word of authority (albeit laughably sometimes) are those feeling most threatened, and that's never a good arbiter of necessary action.

      If a stronger ethical regulatory body is needed anywhere, it's in politics.

    2. James Coombs

      Re: The Hypocritic Oath

      I'd prefer to read the report in full before reaching any conclusions. So far only about 1/5 of the way through the 111 pages. What I am picking up is the novel idea that people should understand *who* is telling them what to think.

      Seems pretty sensible to me.

      1. Fading

        Re: The Hypocritic Oath

        That's why it is insidious - effectively it is a restatement of the logical fallacy "argumentum ab auctoritate". The push to identify the "who" is an attempt to discredit the message by the implication that the source is untrustworthy, The message itself needs to be dissected with critical thought to determine its validity not merely attempting to discount the source.

        Improving logical reasoning and critical thought is the way forward but this would be as much a threat to politicians and the MSM as it would fake news.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Setup a platform tax!!!

    Tax each "platform" on the number of users!

    1) More tax revenues from tax-dodging companies

    2) Less fake accounts, and less boasting about user number increase to deceive advertisers

    3) Platforms would increase users accountability to get rid of some

    4) User data will be given a value

    5) It will balance competion

    1. TheProf

      Re: Setup a platform tax!!!

      Of course! A tax.

      That'll solve the problem.

      1. WilliamBurke

        Re: Setup a platform tax!!!

        Well, SOMEBODY has to finance public services. At the moment it's you and me. Not FB, Google or Amazon.

        Apart from this, it would probably be easier to stick to current methods of corporation and income tax, but stop them from relocating profits to their favourite jurisdiction. And criminal behaviour should be prosecuted under criminal law: don't just fine the companies. Go after the directors and managers who are responsible for breaking the law.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Setup a platform tax!!!

          Well, SOMEBODY has to finance public services. At the moment it's you and me. Not FB, Google or Amazon.

          Well, for the most part it is you and me that use and benefit from public services. Corporations benefit from the rule of law and access to fair courts, but since they're already taxed on buildings and employees, as well as collecting consumer and employee-liability taxes, the argument that they're not paying their fair share is a bit odd.

          All that is at issue here is that big tech companies exploit international trade agreements and weak transfer pricing rules to avoid corporation tax on their profits. I agree it is not a desired outcome, but even if you "fix" this problem, we're talking about a tax that is about 6% of government receipts, and raking in another few hundred million each from MS, FB, Google, Amazon won't shirt that percentage.

          I'm not saying we shouldn't have measures to change the anomalous taxation outcomes, merely observing that ultimately it is ALWAYS you and I that pay for government spending (whether it gets laundered through a corporation or not), and that this anomaly really is a drop in the ocean of government spending.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Setup a platform tax!!!

        Sorry you didn't understand it was a tongue-in-cheek message suggesting a way to cut the "platform finger" those companies hide behind.

        They are not "platforms", and especially they are not "neutral platforms". They are really ads and influencers businesses built on data slurping- including allowing users to upload contents to lure more users in for slurping and collect more data.

        It they keep on pretending they are a just a "platform", yes, I would introduce a "platform tax" - why not? If I can be taxed based on the square feet occupied by my company, why a "platform" can't be taxed by its number of users?

        It would also have the benefits I outlined.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC taking it as seriously as ever

    On the front page of their site below ‘I’m a teenage taxidermist’.

    1. N2

      Re: BBC taking it as seriously as ever

      But no transgender aspect?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So do we expect MP's and their parties that use these platforms for campaigning to pass laws stopping themselves from using underhand tactics or targeting voters?

    I would say not very likely if their housing laws when most of them own rental properties is anything to go by.

    Gesture politics at best.

  10. chivo243 Silver badge

    That there Internet

    has always been full of fake news. Why are people believing it now. I know, it's because a few legit sites linked to stories on The Onion, and now the sky is falling, no?

  11. davenewman

    na nananana

    The video isn't the original song. It is a later take off (sorry, tribute).

    1. gekko

      Re: na nananana

      It was lifted from "Land of a Thousand Dances" which dates back to the '60s.

      Cannibal & the Headhunters had a hit version in 1965 that introduced the Na Na bit

  12. Rich 2 Silver badge

    All quite damning

    It all sounds quite damning - Faecesbook act in a naughty way, and don't follow the rules.

    Excellent! Only another 99 years, 11 months to go before anything is actually done about it

  13. Richard Parkin

    We need a new name for real fake news

    “Fake News” has been popularised by Trump referring to news he does not like. We need a term for anonymous untrue news.

    1. Martin Gregorie

      Re: We need a new name for real fake news

      There already is one: its called LIES.

      1. Richard Parkin

        Re: We need a new name for real fake news

        “Lies” does not cover the anonymity aspect amongst other things.

    2. macjules

      Re: We need a new name for real fake news

      It’s called “Facebook News”

  14. SVV

    Regulate the algorithms?

    How on Earth do they umagine they will do this? The sort of recursive graph traversal code that Facebook et al are based upn is actually fairly simple algorithmically. It is only when combined with the vast amounts of connected data that its effectivate power emerges. So this idea that the regulators will be able to sneak a peek at the awesome super powerful secret formula and tame the evil beast is rather ridiculaous in my opinion.The algtorithms work the same whether they're detecting a personal political leaning or an interest in vinatge steam engines, with the same ad targeting code then deciding to send you either a lie filled bit of political propoganda or a promotion for a fun day out n the Chigley heriitage steam railway according to the data they've got from you.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Regulate the algorithms?

      You don't need to regulate the algorithms, just the output.

      If it recommends flat earth videos or Alex Jones, drop that output, tell the machine learning algorithm it's been naughty so it'll recommend it less in the future, and go back to get another recommendation.

  15. Adrian 4


    Why do they call these 'tech companies' ?

    Facebook isn't a tech company. It doesn't sell tech. It develops some poorly considered algorithms to support its main business, which is selling the personal data of its victims.

    Google is an advertising company.

    Amazon is a shopfront (except for its AWS arm, which is tech).

    1. Keven E

      Re: Tech?

      Well said and appropriate, Adrian 4.

      That describes an *epidermis on the body of fake news.

    2. N2

      Re: Tech?

      Amazon is a shopfront (except for its AWS arm, which is tech).

      Google is an advertising company.

      add creepy personal information collector to your list.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fake news pureyors...

    ...have been around since the dead sea scrolls.

    People either believe crap or they don't.

    Better fund education and teach critical thinking in schools.

    1. EnviableOne

      Re: Fake news pureyors...

      apparently there were enough pieces of the true cross to full a ship.

  17. Stevie


    I just assumed someone had dragged the needle over the godsawful rap and cued up Land of a Thousand Dances.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like