Privacy: we can not just assume that Facebook will do its best ZEIT ONLINE

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  1. Seite 1 – We can not just assume that Facebook will do its best

  2. Seite 2 – Regulation must be verified

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In an opinion piece published on ZEIT ONLINE, Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded to his company's ongoing criticism, including allegations of data misuse and concerns about personalized advertising. German Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection Katarina Gerst of the Social Democrats left in the middle responds to Zuckerberg in an opinion for ZEIT ONLINE.

I wish Facebook the very best for his 15th birthday! Once you have reached that age, your behavior begins to have serious consequences. Teenagers of this age must be held responsible for their own actions. I welcome the fact that Mark Zuckerberg in his ZEIT ONLINE opinion makes it clear that he is aware of Facebook's social responsibility. But on decisive points he has brought to light a lack of awareness of the most urgent problems.

Regulation can be a sensible way

People often have mixed feelings when it comes to social media platforms, and Facebook in particular. The site offers new paths of communication and the possibility for users to present themselves and their thoughts. But it is also worrying how well the platform knows its users. For example, it gives the feeling of knowing who you want to be friends with before you realize it yourself.

Katarina barley

has been the German Minister for Justice and Consumer Protection since March 2018. Before the European elections in 2019 she was nominated as the top candidate for the SPD.

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Things become problematic for users when they start receiving hostile messages or even threats via Facebook, a platform designed to simplify contact with friends only. A criticism on Facebook is that it does not do enough to combat insults and hatred. It is possible that it is not in Facebook's interest to report such content, but when the company only accuses the enmity of human error or an algorithm that has not yet fully developed, it is not particularly compelling and does not measure to the responsibility of the company.

It also hardly helps those who are the target of such abuse. It is the responsibility of every social media platform to ensure that usable content is immediately removed and not distributed further. To ensure that this happens, Germany has adopted the Network Enforcement Act. The law requires social networks, including Facebook, to take stronger action against criminal content.

Facebook not only has the responsibility to refrain from deliberately sharing data. It must also actively protect that data against access by third parties.
Katarina Barley, German Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection

Another important area is the processing of personal data. It is logical that selling user data to advertisers is in conflict with business interests, since you can earn a lot more money by selling your own ads. But what happens if data is leaked? Facebook not only has the responsibility to refrain from deliberately sharing data. It must also actively protect that data against access by third parties.

External regulation is a sensible way to give users of platforms such as Facebook a sense of security. Binding rules must be combined with monitoring to ensure compliance with the rules. But how should such controls look like if they want to establish trust without infringing on the freedom of the user?