Chris Ratcliffe
Social media regulation

TDs to meet Mark Zuckerberg in Facebook Dublin HQ tomorrow to chat about fake news

Social media regulation, transparency in political advertising and the safety of young people online are all up for discussion.

THREE TDS are to meet with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the company’s European headquarters in Dublin tomorrow.

Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton, Fianna Fáil’s James Lawless and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who are also members of the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, will meet the billionaire CEO to discuss the threat of fake news. 

The deputies plan to raise a number of issues with Zuckerberg, including the regulation of social media, transparency in political advertising and the safety of young people and vulnerable adults.

The three TDs are members of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News, which is a worldwide gathering of politicians who meet to discuss the regulation of social media platforms.

The group’s first meeting was held last November in Westminster. The committee will also meet again in Ottawa in Canada this May. 

The three politicians have been vocal about the regulation of social media platforms in recent years, with Lawless introducing the Online Advertising and Social Media (Transparency) Bill in December 2017, which sought to clamp down on political interference through social media, but the government opposed it at the time. 

The Bill, which is believed to have widespread political support, was later scrutinised in committee. 

Facebook found itself in hot water last year when it was revealed 87 million people’s data was improperly shared with the political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

Over the weekend, Zuckerberg wrote an op-ed that was featured in a number of newspapers, in which he admitted that the social network has been in denial about combating harmful content and safeguarding privacy for too long.

“I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators,” he said, adding: 

“By updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what’s best about it – the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things – while also protecting society from broader harms.”

It is understood that Zuckerberg will also visit the site of Facebook’s new European HQ, which is still under construction, the former AIB Bank centre in Ballsbridge. 

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