The developers of the social network Facebook need to engage in a regular dialogue and cooperation with national governments and lawmakers to prevent online disinformation and political campaign financing violations, while also protecting user data. Such steps will minimise growing global concerns about Facebook being used as a tool for election-rigging. These are some of the issues underlined by Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, Deputy Chairperson of the Saeima National Security Committee, in a speech before the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News meeting in London.
“The geopolitical environment around Latvia and the likelihood of Russia attempting to undermine our democracy meant we had to be prepared for this autumn’s general elections well in advance. The governments, lawmakers, experts and media representatives who constitute the Committee, which also has members of nine national parliaments, came together to work on a joint strategy for promoting transparency in social media political advertising and financing and to meet with Richard Allan, Vice President of Policy Solutions, Facebook,” underlined Deputy Speaker Lībiņa-Egnere.
Latvia is one of the few countries that turned cooperation with Facebook during recent elections into a relative success story, efficiently monitoring the spreading of disinformation and fake news, as well as funding sources of political advertising posted on social media. However, according to the Deputy Speaker, no country can operate at such heightened intensity on a daily basis, therefore it cooperation should be a priority for national governments and social networks alike.
MPs attending the meeting of the International Grand Committee raised their concerns about Facebook’s user data protection arrangements and overall lack of confidence in the company’s efforts.
Inese Lībiņa-Egnere and parliamentarians of other countries signed the London Declaration, which lays down international principles for the prevention of spreading of disinformation, fake news, hatred and hate speech online. The declaration calls for a more coordinated response, common international rules and accountability by the social media and technology industry for breaches of and compliance with such rules.
The meeting on 27 November in London was the inaugural hearing of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News. It was attended by members of nine national parliaments: the UK, Latvia, Ireland, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Belgium, France and Singapore.
The establishment of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News was proposed by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons. The mission of the Committee is to aid prevention of the spreading of disinformation and fake news online, and to address other internet governance and monitoring issues.
Saeima Press Service