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The Hill: Zuckerberg call for tech rules gets cold reception

Read on The Hill

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg raised eyebrows over the weekend with a call for regulating internet giants, but his proposals are facing skepticism from the social network’s critics.

Regulators, lawmakers and activists who have grown wary of Facebook saw Zuckerberg’s move less as a mea culpa and more as an effort to shape future regulations in his favor and counter more drastic proposals like Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) demand to break up Silicon Valley’s giants.

“Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t get to make the rules anymore,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who chairs the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, wrote in a tweet. “Facebook is under criminal and civil investigation. It has shown it cannot regulate itself. Does anyone even want his advice?”

A top regulator in the United Kingdom, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, whose office fined Facebook about $560,000 last year over its handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, also pushed back against Zuckerberg. Denham said Zuckerberg could show his sincerity about welcoming regulatory oversight by dropping Facebook’s appeal of the fine.

“In light of Mark Zuckerberg’s statements over the weekend about the need for increased regulation across four areas, including privacy, I expect Facebook to review their current appeal against the [Information Commissioner’s Office] £500,000 fine — the maximum available under the old rule — for contravening UK privacy laws,” Denham said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Facebook did not respond when asked for comment.

In his Washington Post op-ed, Zuckerberg highlighted four areas where he believed Facebook and other internet platforms could benefit from greater oversight: content moderation, election integrity, data privacy and data portability.

The social network has faced withering criticism over its efforts to combat disinformation and toxic content, as well as its handling of user information. Facebook has struggled to respond to the increased attention on its business practices and the public’s evolving expectations for tech giants.

Zuckerberg’s proposal appears to be part of an effort to set clear oversight principles for the industry and shift the burden that has come with Facebook effectively being allowed to regulate itself.

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