UK minister tells Meta ‘rebranding doesn’t work,’ vows to fast-track criminal sanctions for Big Tech execs

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  • “Rebranding doesn’t work,” said UK Digital Minister Nadine Dorries in response to Facebook’s change of name to Meta.
  • Doris promised to bring forward criminal sanctions for social media owners under new laws dealing with harmful content on the web.
  • “I’m looking at three to six months for criminal liability,” she said.

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LONDON – A top UK official has reprimanded Meta, formerly known as Facebook, for its rebrand, and criminal sanctions for social media owners under new laws to tackle harmful content on the web. promised to bring it forward.

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Britain’s Minister of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries told lawmakers on Thursday during a hearing on the online safety bill: “Rebranding doesn’t work.” “When loss happens, we follow it.”

Meta was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Businesshala, but has said the rebrand is focused on its effort to create a so-called “Metaverse.”

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Facebook changed its name to Meta last week, which was criticized by some as an attempt to divert attention from recent problems.

Following a series of whistleblower revelations from a former employee, the company is facing one of its biggest crises in recent history. One of the most notable is that the company was aware of the harmful effects of its Instagram app on teenagers.

The whistleblower, Frances Haugen, appeared in UK parliament last month, telling lawmakers that regulators have “little time” to act on the spread of hate speech and other harmful content on Facebook.

Meta says its name change is about a pivot to what it calls “Metaverse,” a type of shared virtual reality in which multiple users can interact with each other as avatars. The company recently said it plans to hire 10,000 engineers in the European Union to help with its efforts to build the metaverse.

Doris said Meta should give those additional employees the task of “adhering to your terms and conditions and removing your harmful algorithms.”

The UK government is moving forward with sweeping reforms that will hold social media companies accountable for sharing harmful and illegal content on their platforms. Failure to comply with the law threatens with fines of 10% of global annual revenue or £18 million ($24.2 million), whichever is greater.

Under the draft proposals, executives of social media firms could face criminal action within two years if they fail to stamp out the toxic content. However, Doris vowed to fast-track criminal convictions.

“It won’t be two years,” she said. “I’m looking at three to six months for criminal liability.”

The bill is currently being investigated by a committee of politicians led by Damien Collins, a lawmaker who took on Facebook in 2018 for working on the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. Doris on Thursday urged the committee to submit its recommendations to the government at the earliest.

The tech giants have said that they welcome the regulation and are investing heavily in improving security on their platforms. For its part, Meta says it has 40,000 employees working exclusively on platform security.

Doris, who appeared in the British reality TV show “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” Perhaps more famous for his appearance in the U.S., he took over as Minister of Digital from Oliver Dowden earlier this year in a surprise reshuffle. .

He has in recent weeks intensified his rhetoric on reining in Big Tech companies, urging anonymous trolls to end online abuse following the murder of British MP David Ames. Some lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party believe that anonymity on social media platforms contributed to the death of AIIMS.

“The question of anonymity has dominated conversations about online abuse over the past week,” Doris written in a column Last month for the Daily Mail newspaper. “Be assured, this bill will end anonymous abuse, as it will end abuse, full stop.”

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