Facebook's 'Please Regulate Us' Tour Heads To France

from the we'll-see-how-that-goes dept

On Friday, Mark Zuckerberg went to France, just in time for the French government to release a vague and broad proposal to regulate social media networks. Similar to Zuckerberg's pleas to Congress to ramp up its regulation of the company (and because he knows that any pushback on regulations will likely be slammed by the world of Facebook-haters), Zuckerberg tried to embrace the plans.

"It's going to be hard for us, there are going to be things in there we disagree with, that's natural," Zuckerberg said. "But in order for people to trust the internet overall and over time, there needs to be the right regulation put in place."

He also said that he was "encouraged and optimistic about the regulatory framework that will be put in place."

What is that regulatory framework? Well, it's pretty vague. It also has PowerPoint artwork that looks like it was designed decades ago by someone who has no business being anywhere near PowerPoint:

To its credit, the plan does recognize that "freedom of expression" is a key value that needs to be protected, as well as freedom for innovation, but then also says those need to be balanced with a protection from harm. The key issue, as we've seen in other such plans is that it creates what people are referring to as a "duty of care" for social media -- requiring the company to "protect" users and allows regulators to somehow step in if they feel the company isn't succeeding (as if that won't be abused).

The plan also sets up a regulator who will be tasked with overseeing how social media platforms operate. There is also some hand-waving, suggesting that these rules will only apply to platforms of a certain size, which lets them argue that it won't impact or discourage startups, without recognizing how it might alter the overall market as companies seek to avoid whatever threshold rules put them into the "regulated" category. Also, much of the plan does focus on increasing transparency, which is a good thing, but how that gets worked out in practice is a really big question.

The issue in all of this is the same as we've discussed before: Facebook can deal with these rules. It's not clear if other companies can. In effect, the rules might lock in Facebook and this particular paradigm of centralized, siloed social media as what must exist going forward. And that's a problem. Also, trusting regulators to handle these issues in a reasonable way should raise some eyebrows. For people who hate Donald Trump, how would you feel if he were in charge of regulating what sort of "duty of care" Facebook had to take concerning allowing or disallowing certain speech? Or if you like Trump, then how would you feel if, say, Hillary Clinton or AOC were in charge of such things?

In short, who the regulator is can have a pretty massive impact here, and there seems to be little in these proposals to consider that. It's not surprising that Facebook seems resigned to "support" these kinds of proposals. The company is such a target right now that any pushback would probably lead to even worse rules. And, as mentioned, the company is well aware that it can probably weather any such rules, while any potential competitors will probably be hit much harder by them.

Filed Under: duty of care, france, free expression, free speech, innovation, intermediary liability, mark zuckerberg, regulations, responsibility, social media
Companies: facebook


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 3:40pm

    "We got ours so do what you want now!" -- FacEboOK

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 4:50pm

    Of governments in the west were good at freedom they would not have so many people dead or in jail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 4:57pm

    The Mayberry Regulations

    Another case of the Mayberry Regulations.

    What we need is more switchboard operators from the Andy Griffith Show.
    ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 5:00pm

    "slammed by the world of Facebook-haters"

    Don't you just love the people who believe that the 4th, through 9 amendments do not apply to companies because it is done on line.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 5:25pm

    and because he knows that any pushback on regulations will likely be slammed by the world of Facebook-haters

    You're always so eager to try to paint Facebook as the victim. Yes, poor little Facebook is just being unfairly targeted by "Facebook haters", and has clearly done nothing to deserve it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:00pm

      Re:

      You're always so eager to try to paint Facebook as the victim. Yes, poor little Facebook is just being unfairly targeted by "Facebook haters", and has clearly done nothing to deserve it.

      This is a post where I'm complaining about Facebook supporting regulations that will likely block competition.

      And you spin it as if I'm supporting Facebook.

      Incredible.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Tom Ato (pronounced Toom Otto), 13 May 2019 @ 8:20pm

        Re: Re: "I'm supporting Facebook."

        Masnick, you STATE that Facebook is a "target" implying that it's innocent victim and that anything it does will be taken as bad:

        The company is such a target right now that any pushback would probably lead to even worse rules.

        Then you STATE that you're not actually concerned about Facebook's future, which means you're free to appear "criticizing" it:

        And, as mentioned, the company is well aware that it can probably weather any such rules, while any potential competitors will probably be hit much harder by them.

        That reads more like barely concealed HA-HA, which is typical of you.

        You've just written a synopsis, tossed in "And that's a problem." which the casual reader will take as you against that mega-corporation, but you're not. Then you throw in some scare tactics of hypotheticals when the actual problem TODAY is Facebook! But there's not least hint that you actually want Facebook to ever be regulated, let alone broken up.

        The obvious reason you respond is because AC sees through your feeble ploy and you try to prop it up with some eye-rolling. -- You're exactly like Bill Clinton, can never believe that you're OBVIOUS.

        Until you state a call for action, the AC's comment is valid.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Gary (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: "I'm supporting Trolls."

          Blue did you actually read the article? What is common Law? Where is your Free Speech website?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 6:57am

          Facebook being a “target” is not a judgment of “guilt” or “innocence”. It is a statement of fact that points out how Facebook is the target of several governments and their desires to regulate/control Facebook.

          Yes, Facebook doing anything to push back against proposed legislation would be taken as a bad move. Facebook going with the flow, however, ensures that any laws passed to regulate Facebook and its social media brethren would not be nearly as bad as they could be if Facebook fought back.

          Oh, and any regulation that affects Facebook would also affect other social media platforms, large and small, unless the regulation is applied specifically and only to Facebook. The company’s attempts to help pass one-size-fits-every-platform regulations — and make them favorable to Facebook, naturally — is an attempt to crush any and all competition. Smaller platforms that do not have the resources to deal with such regulations will wither and die. Platforms with Facebook-level resources will survive and become practically the only options for people, with Facebook leading the way.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 9:01pm

        Re: Re:

        Without knowing who he gets his money from, and how much, his agenda is impossible to discern.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 14 May 2019 @ 3:12am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why pays you to post here? Unless you can prove nobody pays you, we have to assume you are an astroturfer.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 6:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I’m 99 percent sure this guy “or thing as much equal chance”:is either a bot or someone with interest sees this place as enough of a interest to them “little or great” that they got someone here to devote time to it. The former is more likely then the latter but stranger things have happened these days especially with things like they are.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:19pm

    'Oh please don't throw me into that regulation patch...'

    The issue in all of this is the same as we've discussed before: Facebook can deal with these rules. It's not clear if other companies can. In effect, the rules might lock in Facebook and this particular paradigm of centralized, siloed social media as what must exist going forward.

    I can all but guarantee that that is one of if not the driving force behind this. Facebook is big enough to handle any such regulations, whereas potential competition to them would not be, and would die before they could possible replace the company. By being front and center in the discussion they can also guide it to best help them, and/or hamstring any other competitors

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      freakanatcha, 13 May 2019 @ 7:39pm

      Re: 'Oh please don't throw me into that regulation patch...'

      For the Zuckster, the best of all possible worlds would be different regulations in each country so only FB could afford the compliance.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 5:54am

        Re: Re: 'Oh please don't throw me into that regulation patch...'

        Eventually a group of small companies would merge into a competitor.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 6:57am

          You keep telling yourself that. When it does not happen, I will not say “I told you so”.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 8:22am

          Re: Re: Re: 'Oh please don't throw me into that regulation patch

          There have been countless social networking outfits started and killed over the years since FB began growing so large. They have all failed due to a lack of interest. Why should any random internet denizen bother signing up with some small networking site when all of their friends and family are already on FB? No way they'll get all their friends and family to switch to some small startup with half the features of FB. Nope. We're stuck with FB, probably forever.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    FlatZOut (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:24pm

    The Worst Concert with a Hint of Copyright

    Get your tickets to the live show in France now and we’ll throw in a free Copyright strike free of charge.
    Oh wait! They aren’t free, stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DocGerbil100, 13 May 2019 @ 6:32pm

    Holy shit, look at that fucking picture! Fucking look at it! I am genuinely having flashbacks to the Apple Mac DTP training course I did in the late 1980's. :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 2:50am

      Re:

      It is not intended to inform, but rather make people think that they cannot understand the problem, and that they should accept what is being proposed is should be accepted, because they come from someone who understands the problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:34pm

    I am sure that France will look at everything calmly. With restraint and then say to the rest of the world with regulation on their brain "hold my baguette"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    freedomfan (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 11:31pm

    Facebook understands that you can't have regulatory capture without regulations.

    They understand that artificial barriers to market entry benefit the big players in the market, and they are the biggest player in their market.

    They understand that the next Facebook would be their competition. But, that competition can be killed in the womb by regulations. Just as Facebook never would have gotten off the ground if Zuck & Co. had thought, "Here we have a potentially game-changing idea for a technology business. Now, to hell with engineers, programmers, UI designers, network experts to get this thing to work at scale. Let's hire a $1,000,000 worth of lawyers to make sure we are compliant with the social media regulations, many of which will vary from country to country and won't really be settled law until years after the legislation is passed."

    In short, they are like everyone else who climbs to the top then decides to burn the ropes that they climbed to get there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 5:06am

    reduction of liability

    I think why FB is pushing for regulations is to avoid future liability. With the regulations in place, they can say "We did everything the government(s) told us to, but XYZ still happened, so it is not our fault".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Smartassicus the Roman, 14 May 2019 @ 9:08am

    Idiots

    If any government steps in it'll be a disaster.
    Speaking in the case of the USA, can you imagine a govt regulatory agency directing what is and is not allowed on social media? The free market is handling this slowly, but surely. If you don't like facebook, don't grovel to government. Go somewhere else; make your own platform.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 9:42am

      Re: Idiots

      Speaking in the case of the USA, can you imagine a govt regulatory agency directing what is and is not allowed on social media?

      Yes. If the government gets involved then anything goes, speech-wise. The government may not regulate speech. Since FB is 99.999% speech the government would be unable to moderate any of it. It would become an even bigger cesspool than it already is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gerald Robinson (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 3:18pm

    The reality is that the only possible moderation is no moderation! It's impossible to define hate speech, PORN (the Supreme Court failed), .... The attempt to get a nonpartisan organization resulted in the mess that is the FCC, real success!

    Z BAN ANY MODERATION!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 9:35pm

      Re:

      The reality is that the only possible moderation is no moderation!

      Uh, no. Then you get a site filled with spam and junk. You have to moderate or any site will become useless.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gerald Robinson (profile), 15 May 2019 @ 7:51am

    There have been numerous studies and examples of the failure of moderation. I can characterize me as a bit as hate speach! It's not really but it's a good example of why moderation is a big waste of time. We can all agree on definition of SPAM. So eliminating that may be feasable. As for "filled with junk" ones junk may be someone's revelation and we have to wade through junk in any case!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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