LONDON – A senior UK lawmaker wrote to Facebook on Tuesday. Conservative MP Damian Collins raised concerns about its change in policy around political adverts. Additionally, he queried the company’s planned merger of Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Concerns Over Facebook Political Advertising Policy
Mr. Collins chairs the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. It comprises of MPs from across the different parties. He wrote to Facebook’s Vice President for Global Affairs and Communications Sir Nick Clegg. It followed Facebook’s change to its political advertising policy. The rules now only ban “claims debunked by third-party fake checkers, or, in certain circumstances claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise.”
In the letter, Mr. Collins asked why Facebook had decided on that change “given the heavy constraint this will place on Facebook’s ability to combat online disinformation in the run-up to elections around the world and a possible UK general election in particular?” Mr. Collins also noted the emphasis put on third-part fact-checkers in this policy. He asked if the social media giant had plans “to formalize a working relationship with third-party fact-checkers in the long-term.”
Merged Messaging Service Issues
On the proposed merger of messaging services, Mr. Collins said he could not understand the “the consumer argument for expanded use of encryption” as WhatsApp and other services are available. He wanted to know why WhatsApp could not “remain the only end-to-end encrypted service” run by Facebook. He raised security concerns and asked what the Facebook Safety Team’s opinion on the merger was. Furthermore, the MP wanted to know what level of encryption would be used. He asked if any data from the merged service could be used for advertising.