Facebook, with profit in mind, broke the law to destroy other businesses, according to a federal report from the United Kingdom’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.
The report says social media sites should not be allow to behave like “digital gangsters,” considering themselves beyond the law, the Daily Mail of London reported.
The paper said the reprimand came after Parliament used its authority to seize internal Facebook documents after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to answer its questions last year.
The report found that Facebook “starved” other companies of data to destroy them. And the social media company readily ignored its users’ privacy settings to make money from other developers.
One of the companies under attack was Six4Three. The report said “it is evident that Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws.”
In the United States, Facebook and other social media companies have been accused of censor conservative voices by restricting access to their sites and messaging, including canceling membership and curbing or eliminating ad revenue.
Britain’s information commissioner told the Culture Committee that Facebook needs to significantly change its business model and its practices to maintain trust.
Social media companies in general behave as “monopolies,” the report charges.
“Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law,” the report states. “Government should consider the impact of such monopolies on the political world and on democracy.”
The company denied it broke laws.
CNBC reported the report charged Facebook with “intentionally and knowingly” violating U.K. privacy and anti-competition laws.
It described the report as “scathing.”
The report came after an 18-month review of social media companies for their role in spreading “fake news” and disinformation, CNBC said.
“The committee accused Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of showing ‘contempt’ toward U.K. parliament for declining to testify in front of lawmakers. Zuckerberg appeared in front of U.S. and EU lawmakers to discuss the company’s data collection practices last year but sent other company representatives to testify in Britain,” CNBC said.
Damian Collins, committee chairman, said, according to CNBC, that Zuckerberg “continually fails to show the levels of leadership and personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies.”
The report follows preliminary findings from last year that recommended much more supervision of social media companies.
CNBC said: “Lawmakers also published new internal Facebook emails on Monday related to a California lawsuit between Facebook and app developer Six4Three. A batch of emails published by the committee in December showed Facebook had considered giving companies special access to users’ personal data. At the time, Facebook said the documents omitted important context and only revealed ‘one side of the story.'”
However, the news report said British lawmakers confirmed they saw evidence that Facebook was happy to “override its users’ privacy settings in order to transfer data to some app developers.”
CBS News noted the committee report revealed Facebook managers knew about a data breach associated with campaign consulting firm Cambridge Analytica before it was first reported in the media in 2015.
The report states: “Among the countless innocuous postings of celebrations and holiday snaps, some malicious forces use Facebook to threaten and harass others, to publish revenge porn, to disseminate hate speech and propaganda of all kinds, and to influence elections and democratic processes – much of which Facebook, and other social media companies, are either unable or unwilling to prevent.”
Recommended reforms include a compulsory “Code of Ethics” with a regulator capable of penalizing companies that fail to abide by the code, and updates to election laws and legislation requiring companies to block “known sources” of harmful content.
Collins said Zuckerberg should be served a summons if he enters the U.K., and “if he refused to accept that summons then we could start contempt proceedings against him.”