During a UK-based hearing which included politicians from nine countries, Facebook was accused of dominating social media but lacking accountability for the content shared on its site. However, the company refused to consider any antitrust regulations.
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to attend the hearing despite the repeated insistence by the representatives. In his place, Richard Allan, a Facebook vice president, defended the company.
"We are not asking you to be perfect," Canadian representative Charlie Angus told Allan. "We are asking you to be accountable when issues come up such as genocide, such as misinformation."
Angus added that the main issue with Facebook is its total dominance of social media overall, as even when people do not want to use the service they often only have the option of using another Facebook-owned service such as Instagram or WhatsApp. He argued that this means the social media giant is able to shrug off accountability due to the lack of competition and suggested that Facebook break up the company or make it some form of public utility.
However, Allan responded: "Unless you're going to turn off the internet, I'm not confident that people, the people we serve, you serve, would be better off, in a world where Facebook is not able, however imperfectly, to offer services we have spent 15 years learning how to do it." He also claimed that the antitrust policies Angus called for would not solve the real problems for the company.
The hearing also addressed the startling influence Facebook has on news cycles and the prevalence of "fake news". "You are the arbiter right now of the news cycle around the world because of your video metrics," Angus said. "And what we learned in 2014 is that you became aware they were highly inflated and did nothing. Now you can say you're on a learning path and a journey and you might get back to us. I would consider that corporate fraud on a massive scale."
The politicians also signed a non-binding set of International Principles for the Law Governing the Internet which stated that social media companies should be legally liable to act against known sources of harmful and/or misleading content on their platforms.