The Guardian has pushed for Facebook to be regulated as a media company, arguing that the social network is “long overdue a regulatory reckoning”.
In a leader column today, the newspaper said it supported broadcast regulator Ofcom’s suggestion that all social media should face regulation.
It used the News of the World phone-hacking scandal to claim that “undue dominance of the media always poses a potential threat”.
The scandal was broken by the Guardian’s Nick Davies.
This latest editorial piece comes after Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg was empty chaired by an international grand committee on fake news made up of representatives from nine national parliaments this week.
It read: “When Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the US Congress this spring he insisted he was not running a media company. But it is getting easier to say why he does.
“Facebook, the site Mr Zuckerberg founded almost 15 years ago, hosts and produces content. It sells advertising against content.
“It employs thousands of moderators who help patrol the content it ‘surfaces’.
“Two months after he gave his testimony Facebook, without irony, announced plans to launch news shows on its video portal.
“Mr Zuckerberg ought to be held accountable for running a media company.”
The Guardian went on to claim that Facebook was the biggest source of news, behind only the BBC, and that it spread “prejudice and falsehood”.
It argued that the social network should also be subject to “strict advertising regulations”.
At the grand committee meeting in Westminster this week, Facebook’s vice president of policy solutions Lord Richard Allen accepted that the network needed to be regulated.
Yougov and Cambridge University research published late last week found that social media was the third most popular source of news for UK adults, behind radio and television.
The report said Facebook was the most popular social media platform for news, with 70 per cent of those who used the networks for information saying they did so through Facebook.
Guardian editor Kath Viner used a speech at this year’s Society of Editors conference to argue that the tech giant should be responsible for what appears on its platform.
She added: “Because of their dominance of digital advertising I think the competitions authority should have a look at what’s going on in the industry as well.”
Almost all of the money made by Facebook last year ($39bn) came from digital advertising revenue. Digital advertising spend in the UK last year was £11.5bn. Facebook is the biggest digital display ad player, taking over £1bn.
Picture: Reuters/Stephen Lam & Reuters/Dado Ruvic