Did The British Government Just Ask Facebook to “Influence” the Election?

by Mark Angelides

In possibly the most bizarre behavior that many of us are likely to see from a supposed Democratic government, a Government official has asked Facebook to begin taking down “Fake News” faster and faster because people who use it as a news source “might be misled”.
Chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, Damian Collins suggested that this Fake News could pose a Threat to the “the integrity of democracy”. He cited as his motivating factor the recent events in the US election (as reported in the Guardian):
“The risk is what happened in America,the top 20 fake news stories in the last three months of the election were shared more than the top 20 most shared stories that were true. The danger is, if for many people the main source of news is Facebook and if the news they get on Facebook is mostly fake news, they could be voting based on lies.”
But who are the people deciding what are lies and what are truths. Most things in life and the media come down to an interpretation or a specific choice of wording; this is why politicians are always so precise in their choice of words. And in this case, the UK government is not even suggesting that itself become the arbiter of what is real and what is not, it is offering this role to a bunch of strangers who happen to work at Facebook. What makes them the moral arbiters of our time?
Apparently, the fact that Facebook is in charge of doling out our reality doesn’t worry him, in truth, the thing that does is that they are not censoring people fast enough:
“Looking at some of the work that has been done so far, they don’t respond fast enough or at all to some of the user referrals they can get. They can spot quite quickly when something goes viral. They should then be able to check whether that story is true or not and, if it is fake, blocking it or alerting people to the fact that it is disputed. It can’t just be users referring the validity of the story. They [Facebook] have to make a judgment about whether a story is fake or not.”
And here is the most amazing part…Even Facebook, with their agenda driven mission, has stated that this move to make them “the Guardians” is too much. COO Sheryl Sandberg, even said “We definitely don’t want to be the arbiter of the truth. We don’t think that’s appropriate for us.”
The UK government needs to rethink what it’s doing.