Facebook invited to answer questions in SA parliament

Date:17 February 2021 Author: Leila Stein

Facebook has been invited by the Parliamentary Committee of Communications and Digital Technologies to answer questions regarding the 2021 elections in South Africa.

This was agreed upon by the Committee, following a request by the Democratic Alliance who want to meet with the tech giant to discuss its content moderation efforts.

Facebook has been in trouble with multiple countries over flaming hatred and misinformation, especially around election time.

In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the US Congress to answer questions about Facebook’s role in interference in the 2016 election. In addition, the company has been linked to influencing the Brexit vote.

This invitation isn’t directed at Zuckerberg in California, but rather the local offices of Facebook Africa, based in Johannesburg.

The DA’s main concern is the lack of moderation on its platforms in countries like South Africa. 

“While the company has committed to strengthening content moderation their efforts are usually focused on countries that are global powerhouses like the United States, the European Union and others, like our own, are not a priority,” the DA told MyBroadband.

“Importantly, Facebook Africa needs to provide a plan on what steps it will be taking in tackling misinformation ahead of the 2021 Local Government Election, as it has done for elections in other parts of the world.”

Facebook has been cleaning up its act somewhat, with the COVID-19 pandemic proving to be a pivotal shift in its thinking. Rather than insist free speech overrides public health, the platform has been attempting to remove mis- and disinformation on the subject. 

However, it continues to fall short in areas it doesn’t understand. Facebook has been a key proliferation tool for South African myths, including a supposed white genocide. These posts and groups have allowed the false information of increased murders of white people to spread across the world and even be reflected in the comments of American politicians.

Picture: Unsplash

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