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Stephen Kinnock calls on Facebook to tackle extremism “epidemic”

Facebook should hire “hundreds or even thousands” more moderators to tackle an “epidemic” of extremism and fake news on its platform, according to Labour MP Stephen Kinnock.

Kinnock’s comments come in response to a series of Scram News reports, showing that Facebook has allowed far-right groups and others to publish adverts that contain Islamophobia, hate, anti-Semitism and misinformation.

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Our reports revealed that ‘For Britain’, a far-right group founded by former UKIP leadership contender Anne Marie Waters, has paid for anti-Muslim adverts on Facebook. We also uncovered similar hate-filled adverts in the United States, including an advert published by someone running for Congress that distributed fake news about Muslims.

Speaking to Scram News about these adverts, Kinnock said that Facebook’s failure to tackle extremism and fake news is “having a corrosive effect on our democracy,” and that the social media company should be “hiring hundreds or even thousands more moderators to tackle this epidemic.”

He added that we need a shift in thinking so that Facebook is treated as a publisher, rather than a platform. Lamenting Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to answer questions from MPs about his platform, Kinnock said, “it’s disgraceful that Facebook’s executives can get away with a shrug of the shoulders or a turn of the head every time they come under scrutiny.”

Kinnock is the chair of a new All Party Parliamentary Group for Electoral Campaigning Transparency that will investigate – among other things – how digital political advertising should be monitored and regulated during election periods.

Discussing the launch of his committee, he said: “We have been complacent, and our complacency has allowed malign forces to subvert our rules and undermine our institutions…. Dark money and dirty data is a real and present threat, right across the West.”

We asked Facebook to respond to Kinnock’s comments. They said: “Individuals and organisations who spread hate, and who attack or call for the exclusion of others because of who they are, have no place on Facebook.

“However, in order to balance freedom of speech we do allow people to discuss and criticise broad religions, institutions, ideas and beliefs if done in a way that won’t lead to real-world harm.

“We recognise this is a tough balance to get right and our decisions will not always please everyone, which is why we encourage people to report content that they find questionable or offensive.”

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