The deeds to match the words
As you know, I have been calling for a new social media regulator with tough powers for some time now. The social media giants have been completely unaccountable over the last 10 years. And if you look at Facebook, a company that facilitates the livestreaming of a massacre, they are beyond any norms of ethics and moral behaviour.
Even Mark Zuckerberg, who to many represents the epitome of all that is wrong in this sphere, has said this past week that governments need to regulate internet giants to protect ‘election integrity’.
So I have welcomed the government's white paper to deal with online harm with a regulator to enforce a statutory duty of care on social media and powers to fine senior executives.The plans for personal liability of executives whose platforms fail to take responsibility are particularly promising.
But I have some major concerns namely that these plans look like they will take years to implement when we need reform urgently to protect children and others vulnerable to harms online.
And whilst these proposals are a good first step, they don’t really address the root of the problem which is market failure. Frankly, Google and Facebook are too big. They dominate too much of the digital advertising market. They think they’re unaccountable to their customers and the market and in those cases government must step in to regulate the market and get it back on track.
Which brings me back to Mark Zuckerberg, who - speaking about regulations - has stated that he is "looking forward to discussing plans with lawmakers around the world".
That would be good to hear if only his deeds ever matched his words. Unfortunately it is difficult to escape the vision of the empty chair left with his name on it during the DCMS Select Committee fake news hearing last year.
I have written to Mr Zuckerberg this week inviting him to meet me in my role as Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, along with my colleague Liam Byrne, Shadow Digital Minister.
It is the fourth letter I have sent him this year. Like the other three, I am not expecting a reply. Perhaps I should just post them on Facebook.