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Web Summit 2020 Talk: Facebook, elections and political speech.


Today at 3:30 form deputy Prime Minister of the UK and Facebook's current Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg spoke at the Web Summit. He briefly touched on the recent US elections and what he thought the next President, Joe Biden might face in regards to regulation of content on social media platforms. 

He, along with interviewer John Micklethwait, spoke on the concept of the internet in regards to its divisions. Stating that conversely to what people may think there is not just one seamless global internet in the way it functions. It can be divided heavily into a plethora of sections based around the regulations and freedoms of its users depending on their global region. Stating some examples such as China, the US, the EU and India. While not condemning the monitoring of the internet in particular regions Nick Clegg did point out that social media platforms are facing a similar issue in regards to freedom of speech versus protection of the public from hate speech, or illegal content. 

To be able to regulate content whether the intention behind it is good or bad is still a limitation of this freedom and therefore presents a perplexing conundrum that has been gathering more and more attention on a global scale as social media interacts and ultimately influences elections. 

Nick Clegg stated that the fragmented opinions of the EU's nations have been a deciding factor that has limited the growth of similarly large and profitable platforms such as Facebook and TikTok within their territories. This is because, in comparison to the likes of the US and China, who have large domestic markets, the Individual nations of Europe cannot support the growth of platforms due to their divided nature. In order to facilitate this, there would need to be a seamless collection of policies across Europe ensuring a larger market for these businesses. In addition to this, the prominence of the data protection arguments surrounding platforms such as Facebook within Europe is something not seen in other markets.  

Mr Clegg mentioned, contrary to popular belief,  that Brexit will most likely not create an opportunity for such businesses to grow, as it limits the size of the domestic market. 

When asked by Mr Micklethwait, Nick Clegg argued that the most crucial issue facing social networking platforms is the protection, storage and usage of client data as the balance between using it for ingenuity or development versus protection of individual privacy has not yet been found. In order for this to progress, Mr Clegg suggested that politics and the engineers behind such platforms would have to speak and interact to find this balance over time. Doing this might be difficult as they typically logical centric outlook of engineers differs greatly to the ebb and flow of political sentiment not based largely on logic. However, to allow strict regulation on freedom of speech would set a dangerous precedent for the future warned Nick Clegg. 

Jack Glidewell 

Editor at social songbird. A self taught writer and news enthusiast, with a deep love for new and exciting developments around the globe. Aspiring Novel writer and traditional and pop Japanese culture lover. 

Web Summit 2020 Talk: Facebook, elections and political speech. Reviewed by Jack Glidewell on Thursday, December 03, 2020 Rating: 5

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