Social media execs face panel on fake news

From left) Google’s News Lab lead for Asia-Pacific Irene Jay Liu, Twitter’s director for public policy and philanthropy in Asia-Pacific Kathleen Mary Helen Reen, Twitter’s global lead for government and elections Philip Chua Jin Wen, Facebook’s head of public policy in South-east Asia Alvin Tan, Facebook’s vicepresident of public policy for Asia-Pacific Simon Milner, and Asia Internet Coalition managing director Jeff Paine. PHOTO: GOV.SG

Facebook executives were grilled yesterday by members of the parliamentary Select Committee on deliberate online falsehoods.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam took the tech giant to task for not telling its users soon after it found out their data was breached by political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

He said Facebook fell short of its own pledges on transparency, which calls into question whether it can be relied on to fight false news on its own.

Facebook Asia-Pacific vice-president of public policy Simon Milner admitted it did wrong in withholding the information, but said steps have been taken to fix the problem, and it is serious about cooperating with governments to fight disinformation.

The company, with Twitter and Google, had suggested new legislation was not necessary in Singapore. But the committee said other experts at earlier hearings had pointed out gaps in existing laws.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged the company should have done better in handling the breach. Outraged US and British lawmakers have opened investigations into the scandal that came to light in the past week.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2018, with the headline 'Social media execs face panel on fake news'. Subscribe