Helen Jones slams Facebook for dodging select committee appearances

‘Young men in your company may play games, but you do not play games with us’: MP blasts Facebook for dodging her questions as tech giant reveals they removed 2.5m hate speech posts in just three months

  • Karim Palant admitted social media giant is undated with offensive messages
  • Labour MP Helen Jones tore into Facebook  during select committee grilling
  • She accused Mr Palant of dodging appearances and trying to evade scrutiny
  • The PM has vowed to crack down on tech giants and warned she may legislate

A senior MP today launched a blistering attack on Facebook – accusing the social media giant of trying to dodge questions and treating Parliament with contempt.

Labour MP Helen Jones gave the company a ferocious dressing down for pulling out of appearances in front of her select committee.

She warned Karim Palant, Facebook’s UK public policy chief, that ‘you do not play games with the House of Commons’.

Her furious rebuke came as the Facebook boss joined Twitter and Google chiefs in being grilled by MPs on what they are doing to tackle online abuse and extremism.

Mr Karim admitted to MPs that the tech firm took down 2.5 million hate speech posts in the first three months of the year. 

The grilling kicked off to a tense start when Ms Jones, the chairwoman of the  petitions select committee, tore into Mr Palant and his colleagues for wriggling out of committee sessions.

She said: ‘Your company will not be able to avoid democratic scrutiny. It is not acceptable to try to disrupt a committee inquiry.

‘You do not dictate the terms of engagement – elected members do.’

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Facebook’s policy chief was joined by Google’s public policy manager Katie O’Donovan and Twitter’s senior strategist Nick Pickles (who appeared via Skype on a laptop) to be grilled by the petitions committee 


 Labour MP Helen Jones (pictured left)  gave Facebook box Karim Palant (pictured right)  a ferocious dressing down for pulling out of appearances in front of her select committee.


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She added: ‘You have given the impression that your company does not feel it has to be scrutinised and, frankly, that it has something to hide, and in doing so you have done them no service at all.

Justin Bieber music video one of the most complained about, YouTube chief reveals

One of Justin Bieber’s music videos has attracted a flood of complaints to YouTube from his music critics (file pic)

Justin Bieber critics are flooding YouTube’s complaints service designed to flag up abuse or extremism to demand one of his music videos is taken down, it has been revealed.

Katie O’Donovan told MPs that one of the US pop star’s music video was one of the most complained about posts on the website.

She said this is not because he uses offensive language – but because the grammy-award winning artist, 24, is very divisive. 

She made the revelation as she was grilled by MPs on the petitions select committee in Parliament today.

She said: ‘One of the most-flagged pieces of content we have on YouTube is a Justin Bieber music video.

‘It is not because there is any hate speech in there or anything that breaks our community guidelines, it’s just that people who aren’t Justin Bieber fans tend to flag that content.’

She did not reveal which of Bieber’s music videos had attracted the flood of complaints. 

YouTube works with ‘trusted flaggers’ such as the Samaritans to get an expert view on which content genuinely presents a risk, she told the committee.  

‘Young men in your company may play games, but you do not play games with the House of Commons.’ 

She warned him that the committee was ready to issue summonses to Facebook representatives to ensure that they attended to answer questions at sufficient length. 

Mr Palant was grilled by MPs alongside Google’s public policy manager Katie O’Donovan and Twitter’s senior strategist Nick Pickles – who appeared via Skype. 

Mr Palant said Facebook used a mixture of Artificial Intelligence and human moderators to spot and take down the content.

He said: ‘We have removed 2.5m pieces of hate speech in the first quarter of this year.

‘With something like hate speech content, human understanding is key…we don’t remove a great deal of hate speech from Facebook without it being reviewed by a human.’ 

Mr Palant defended Facebook’s record on tackling abusive content and said the site felt it had a ‘clear responsibility to our users’ to ensure their online safety.

‘We have long had very clear policies around abuse and hate speech on our platform and the abuse of individuals using language that may degrade, may dehumanise and may abuse individuals and attack them for what we describe as protected categories,’ he said.

The revelation comes after Theresa May last year warned tech giants to ‘go further and faster’ in taking down abusive and extremist content.

She warned companies must put an end to the ‘safe spaces’ for terrorists online after Britain and other European countries were targeted by a wave of bloody attacks. 

The committee hearing comes as the abuse hurled at people online is coming under the spotlight in Britain.

Theresa May has vowed to crack down on it amid fears that people are being driven to despair and even suicide by online bullying.

Ministers have queued up to condemn social media giants for failing to do enough tackle the problem – and warned them they face new laws if they do not radically improve things. 

Meanwhile, Ms O’Donovan said social media firms have to wade through ‘red flags’ which highlight abusive or extremist content and complaints which do not require action.

The revelation comes after Theresa May (pictured in Downing Street)  last year warned tech giants to ‘go further and faster’ in taking down abusive and extremist content.

She revealed that one of Justin Bieber’s music videos is one of the site’s most complained about post because so many music fans do not like him.

She said: ‘One of the most-flagged pieces of content we have on YouTube is a Justin Bieber music video.

‘It is not because there is any hate speech in there or anything that breaks our community guidelines, it’s just that people who aren’t Justin Bieber fans tend to flag that content.’

YouTube works with ‘trusted flaggers’ such as the Samaritans to get an expert view on which content genuinely presents a risk, she told the committee. 

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