Stephen Fry, an English actor, comedian, presenter, activist and writer, has called for the social media giant and other “aggregating news agencies” to be reclassified as publishers to stop online abuse and fake news by giving the social media platforms the same legal responsibilities as conventional news websites.
Social networks refuse to take responsibility for fake items: Stephen Fry
As part of the programme of the Hay literary festival, Fry outlined his “reformation” for the internet to mark the quincentenary of Ninety-five Theses in 1517 of Martin Luther, notes the U.K.- based news outlet The Guardian. Fry accused the social networks of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”.
He said, “One thesis I could immediately nail up to the tent flag is to call for aggregating news agencies like Facebook to be immediately classified as publishers.” He further added, “At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly.”
He said, “If they, and Twitter and like platforms recognised their responsibilities as publishers, it would certainly help them better police their content for unacceptable libels, defamations, threats and other horrors, that a free belief in the value of the press would, as a matter of course, be expected to control.”
Social networks will soon be forced into new legal responsibilities
Fry, who bought his first computer in 1982, has always been considered an enthusiast of computer technology as he was an early adopter of the social media and internet. It was announced last week that YouTube, Twitter and Facebook – all three major social media platforms – were facing the new strict pan-European laws, which forced the social networking sites to eliminate sexually explicit videos and hate speech from their platform or face steep fines. Fry said that he believed that they would also be forced into new legal responsibilities soon.
On Saturday, Fry cited the failure at British Airways’ IT system that resulted in BA flights being grounded at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. He cautioned that the reliance of the world on digital systems would inevitably prompt a cataclysmic cyber-attack and bring on a digital winter for humankind.
He warned, “An extinction-level event … will obliterate our title deeds, eliminate our personal records, annul our bank accounts and life savings, delete all the archives and accumulated data of our existences and create a kind of digital winter for humankind.”