Facebook HQ Comments On ACCC Preliminary Report

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., listens as Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, not pictured, speaks during a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. Prime Minister Modi plans on connecting 600,000 villages across India using fiber optic cable as part of his

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry preliminary report is causing quite a stir.

Released on Monday, media execs from across Australia were quick to comment on the preliminary report’s finding, with many releasing statements that afternoon congratulating the ACCC and championing the commission’s 11 recommendations.

Now, Facebook has got wind of the report, with Andy O’Connell, a senior policy executive from Facebook’s global headquarters in Menlo Park, California, making a public statement on the findings.

According to O’Connell, “It seems to me a lot of things they seem to be pushing for are unnecessary.”

“This idea that we would create a generalised algorithm regulator without a specific set of problems they are trying to fix, to make choices for consumers rather than putting users in control, it is pretty unprecedented,”  he said.

Speaking more on the “algorithm regulator”, he added: “This is unprecedented as far as I am aware. I am not aware of any other country seriously looking at this idea of an algorithm regulator.”

The report, which scrutinises Google, Facebook and Australian news and advertising, specifically tackles the issue of transparency, with Rod Sims later stating in a press conference: “The concern about a lack of recognition is one example of issues which have arisen from lack of transparency about how news is ranked.”

Responding to this, O’Connell said: “We’ve done a lot around transparency that hasn’t been able to break through.

“The way Newsfeed works, the way our ranking products work, they’re personalised to individuals.”

Despite his criticism of the “algorithm regulator”, O’Connell acknowledged the effort which went into the preliminary report and thanked the ACCC.

“We are supportive and we understand the desire to have clearer rules of the road.

“You need to agree on what the specific problem is you’re trying to solve before you propose a solution,” he said.

“We recognise these are important issues; the future of news, the future of technology.”

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