How to counter Facebook's might?

Things are not looking good for tech giant Facebook. Several of the company's services were offline for hours on Monday evening due to a massive outage. Instagram and WhatsApp were also affected. Then on Tuesday, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen made serious accusations against the company before the US Congress. Europe's media focus on regulation of social networks.

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Irish Examiner (IE) /

Regulate social networks like other industries

The company simply has too much power, the Irish Examiner explains:

“We should recognise that allowing a rapacious company to design and own critical infrastructure with zero accountability is the worst of all possible options. If its executives want to compare social media to cars, then at the very least this dangerous technology must be subjected to the same level of heavy regulation and independent oversight as the automotive industry. Otherwise, Facebook must be reminded that it's not too late for the public to pull the plug on this social experiment gone wrong.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

Journalistic standards for social media

The social networks must be subject to the same rules as conventional media, 24 Chasa demands:

“They must check facts and be held accountable for the accuracy of the content. The affected web pages must have the right to defend themselves in court against untrue or disparaging information. Until recently, social media claimed to be mere platforms where people write what they want without these texts being edited. As we can see, this is not entirely true, since artificial intelligence sifts through the posts and decides which ones will become popular and which ones will not.”

The Independent (GB) /

An immoral network

The Independent hopes that whistleblower Frances Haugen's testimony before the US Senate will finally open Facebook users' eyes:

“We've long felt Facebook's damaging impact on our society, democracy, children, and health. Now, in an unprecedented move, we have someone from inside Facebook with tens of thousands of documents laying Facebook's 'moral bankruptcy' bare. A damning picture is coming into focus: Facebook knows exactly how destructive its products are and they aren't doing everything in their power to fix them. These new allegations show that time and time again, Facebook executives choose the maximization of profit over the public good.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Like oil and cigarettes

El Periódico de Catalunya calls for state regulation:

“The company was aware of the damage it was inflicting on the democratic system and the mental health of adolescents, yet it deliberately kept quiet. This means that we are no longer talking about the legitimate commercial interests of a company, but about a public problem. To what extent, one might ask, are tech companies replicating the attitude the fossil fuel industry took towards climate change, or the tobacco industry's stance on the consequences of smoking? ... If economic logic drives the company's interests in one direction, the authorities must consider introducing regulatory or youth protection measures that in no way challenge freedom of expression.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Maximum embarrassment

The outage comes at the worst possible time, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung points out:

“Whistleblower and ex-employee Frances Haugen made serious accusations against the company in a TV interview on the weekend, saying that Facebook puts growth and profits above the safety of users and society. ... Consequently, the hours-long suspension of services has not only highlighted how dependent many people are on Facebook, but it's also very inopportune in the current context. Hardly anything could be more embarrassing. It shows how error-prone the digital infrastructure still is, and how quickly the increasingly digitally structured economic and working world can be derailed.”

Kommersant (RU) /

Russia needs its own Internet

The Facebook blackout has put grist in the mill of advocates of a sovereign Russian 'Runet', writes Kommersant:

“The collapse of the American social networks has put the eternal question of national security back on the table. Reports on whether 1.5 billion personal data records of Facebook users have indeed been leaked have become top news in Russia. So we can expect renewed and insistent pleas from Internet regulators to US companies, demanding that they respect Russian laws and store Russians' personal data in Russia. The need for a more or less sovereign Runet is hard to deny. Just like the fact that every internet infrastructure will fail sooner or later. The only question is: what happens then?”