Mike Bracken, the former head of government digital service, says that Facebook needs to be reform to help deal with the rising popularity of far-right groups, and that the social network needs to change the way it operates soon.
His comments came from Twitter, where he responded to BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.
Facebook needs reform. Regulatory or otherwise, but it has to come soon. https://t.co/e3pIBtshjA
— Mike Bracken (@MTBracken) December 20, 2017
Facebook, where its page has 1.9m likes, remains the key social media platform for Britain First. And the company refuses to respond to my repeated requests to explain why it doesn’t contravene its rules. pic.twitter.com/MRlFfXoSzg
— Rory Cellan-Jones (@ruskin147) December 19, 2017
This comes just days after twitter suspended the accounts of Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, Britain First's leader and deputy leader. Twitter decided to start enforcing new rules about hate speech and violence, rules Britain First's leadership obviously broke.
Facebook has said that it is "reviewing" Britain First's Facebook page, with director of public policy Simon Milner telling the Home Affairs Committee that because Britain First was a registered political party "up until recently" they were "deemed by the authorities to be legitimate in that respect." He did, however, add that there are obvious issues with the group's page, with a number of pieces of content being taken down.
This isn't the first time this talk has happened, and back in October culture secretary Karen Bradley said the government was considering reclassifying companies like Facebook as publishers - so they could be held more accountable for the content they host. Though she admitted that this idea was not without a lot of problems.
“We need to be careful here that what we do is not a sledgehammer to crack a nut – a piece of legislation where we say under UK common law these platforms are now publishers, which could impact on freedom of speech, civil liberties and the ability of people to enjoy the benefits that the internet brings.
But we have to do this in a way that doesn’t allow harm.”