Former politician and Nine Entertainment Co chairman Peter Costello has said Facebook and its tech counterparts should be “liable as publishers”.
The comments come just days after Facebook announced the launch of a new ‘fact-checking’ tool in Australia which promises to stamp out fake news on the platform.
Speaking to Fairfax Media, Costello said Facebook, as well and Google and YouTube, should be penalised as publishers, and uphold the same media standards as newspapers.
Voicing his concerns, Costello said: “Fake news persists because there’s no editorial control.
“The legal liability of Facebook and YouTube as publishers has to be looked at.
“I think there’s a strong case to make them liable as publishers.”
Touching specifically on the fact-checking tool from Facebook, Costello said social media and tech giants need to begin “accepting legal liability”.
“I think at the end of the day, fact-checking and accepting legal liability is very expensive and … they don’t want to wear the cost of that,” he said.
Costello’s comments are part of a larger dispute between the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix & Google) and publishers that has been simmering away for years.
However last year, the dispute reached a boiling point when advertisers’ began having concerns over brand safety as ads were running alongside unfavourable content across the FAANGs.
While many critics of Facebook, Google and particularly YouTube were quick to call out the platforms as having to admit once and for all they are publishers and should be penalized as such, the tech giants remain reticent to label themselves as publishers.
When Facebook first began rolling out its fact-checking tool in the US, the company’s product manager Tessa Lyons said in a release, “False news is a money maker for spammers and a weapon of state actors and agitators around the world.
“This has introduced important questions for society and new responsibilities for companies like Facebook.
Lyons added: “Fact-checkers don’t exist in all countries, and different places have different standards of journalism as well as varying levels of press freedom.
“Even where fact-checking organizations do exist, there aren’t enough to review all potentially false claims online. It can take hours or even days to review a single claim.
“To make real progress, we have to keep improving our machine learning and trying other tactics that can work around the world.”
B&T has contacted Facebook for comments.