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Friday 12 January 2018

Leveling the playing field

FBRegular readers will know that, although I am a prolific user of social media and online services in general, I am dismayed at the effect it has had on other media that is dear to me. I have oft-quoted our local paper - the Farnham Herald - which has real reporters who vet both stories and ads. But they have suffered as their classified advertising has moved online.

Whatever Facebook may say it is a media outlet. Yet it seemed to think it was not subject to all the rules, regulations and moral obligations of more conventional media. Why should it have any responsibility for the items it carries as it curates none of it? Very convenient as vetting news items costs a lot of money as, even in these days of AI, it requires a lot of new hires.

So the news today that Facebook has agreed to pay compensation to a 14 year old girl whose naked photographs were posted on the site, is something of a landmark. The pictures were posted on a so-called ‘Shame page’ on Facebook in 2014 and 2016 after she was blackmailed and the photos posted as revenge. The girl sought damages for misuse of private information, negligence and breach of the DPA.

Of course, these images would never have got as far as being published in the Farnham Herald because real people would have stopped it. If they had for some reason been published, the law would have been down on the Farnham Herald like a ton of bricks. As I said before, I strongly believe that Facebook - and other social media -  should be subject to all the rules, regulations and moral obligations that apply to the ‘conventional media’. This case is an important step towards levelling the playing field.

For more on this story, see Daily Telegraph, The Times and other reports. 

Posted by Richard Holway at '09:14'

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