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World NewsUK minister criticizes Facebook rebrand to Meta

UK minister criticizes Facebook rebrand to Meta

A smartphone with Facebook’s brand is seen in entrance of displayed Facebook’s new rebrand brand Meta on this illustration taken October 28, 2021.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

LONDON — A prime U.Ok. official has slammed Meta, the corporate previously generally known as Facebook, for its rebrand, and promised to carry ahead felony sanctions for social media bosses underneath new legal guidelines tackling dangerous content material on the net.

“Rebranding doesn’t work,” Nadine Dorries, Britain’s minister for digital, tradition, media and sport, informed lawmakers Thursday at a listening to on the Online Safety Bill. “When harm is caused, we are coming after it.”

Meta was not instantly accessible for remark when contacted by CNBC however has mentioned the rebrand is targeted on its effort to construct a so-called “metaverse.”

Facebook modified its title to Meta final week in a transfer that was criticized by some as an try to shift focus away from its current issues.

The firm is going through one in all its greatest crises in current historical past, following a collection of revelations from a former employee-turned-whistleblower. One of essentially the most notable is that the corporate knew in regards to the dangerous results of its Instagram app on youngsters.

The whistleblower, Frances Haugen, appeared in U.Ok. Parliament final month, telling lawmakers that regulators have a “slight window of time” to act on the unfold of hate speech and different dangerous content material on Facebook.

Meta says its title change is a few pivot to what it calls the “metaverse,” a type of shared digital actuality during which a number of customers can work together with one another as avatars. The firm lately mentioned it plans to rent 10,000 engineers within the European Union to assist with its efforts to construct the metaverse.

Dorries mentioned Meta ought to give these additional staff the duty of “abiding by your terms and conditions and removing your harmful algorithms” as a substitute.

The U.Ok. authorities is progressing with sweeping reforms which might maintain social media firms to account over the sharing of dangerous and unlawful content material on their platforms. The laws threatens fines of up to 10% of world annual income or £18 million ($24.2 million), whichever is the upper quantity, for failure to comply.

Under draft proposals, executives at social media companies might face felony motion inside two years in the event that they fail to stamp out poisonous materials. However, Dorries vowed to fast-track felony penalties.

“It will not be two years,” she mentioned. “I’m looking at three to six months for criminal liability.”

The invoice is at the moment being examined by a committee of politicians led by Damian Collins, a lawmaker who took Facebook to process over the Cambridge Analytica privateness scandal in 2018. Dorries urged the committee on Thursday to ship their suggestions to the federal government as quickly as potential.

Tech giants have mentioned they welcome regulation and are investing closely into enhancing security on their platforms.

Dorries, who might be extra well-known to Brits for her look on actuality TV present “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!,” took over the job of digital minister from Oliver Dowden earlier this yr in a shock reshuffle.

She has sharpened her rhetoric on reining in Big Tech firms in current weeks, urging for an finish to on-line abuse from nameless trolls after the killing of British lawmaker David Amess. Some MPs within the ruling Conservative Party imagine anonymity on social media platforms contributed to Amess’ loss of life.

“The question of anonymity has dominated the conversation about online abuse over the past week,” Dorries wrote in a column for the Daily Mail newspaper final month. “Rest assured, this Bill will end anonymous abuse, because it will end abuse, full stop.”

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