The intelligence agency in Germany implied on Monday (May 14) that more regulation may be applied to social media companies if the European Union can get them to increase their accountability for spreading illegal and dangerous content.
Reuters reported that the German intelligence official Hans-Georg Maassen said the European Union is working to get social media platforms to increase their transparency and consciousness. Still, if the European Union doesn't succeed in that goal, regulation may be needed. “The Commission is in negotiations, but if this consciousness doesn’t help, then we may have to adopt regulations,” Maassen said.
Meanwhile, Andrew Parker, head of Britain’s MI5 spy agency, said the companies have been changing how they run their businesses, but that more needs to be done. “We do not accept that the internet is some sort of ‘Wild West’ where no moral values can apply,” he told reporters. Parker noted that just like in the real world, people are entitled to be protected from the worst of human behavior while online. "Those companies know that and want to do something about it," he added.
Earlier in the year, Facebook raised the prospect of more regulation after it revealed a massive data scandal in which the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm that worked on President Trump's U.S. election campaign, accessed the information of 87 million users without their permission. That resulted in series of inquiries – both in the U.S. and the U.K. – and culminated in the testimony of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg before Congress. It has also raised the ire of consumers, regulators, lawmakers and privacy groups, which have called on Facebook and other social media companies to do a better job of protecting users' data.
There's also concern about the mid-term election and how Russia will interfere via social media. After all, Facebook has been criticized for enabling the spread of false and hateful content on its platform during the 2016 U.S. election.