Facing down Facebook: Reclaiming Democracy in the Age of (Anti) Social Media

This report commissioned by Molly and researched and written by Tom Scott, examines the role Facebook has played in abuses of personal data for political purposes and the spread of disinformation, particularly during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016.

The report details the ways in which the social media giant has consistently lied to the public and to regulators in order to conceal or misrepresent the ongoing abuses to which it has been party. The report concludes that Facebook cannot be trusted to regulate itself. To ensure that such abuses are curtailed in future, there are some key policy recommendations.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Molly said:

“Facebook is the social network turned antisocial network. It was supposed to bring us closer together but now stands accused of stealing our imaginations, fostering social divisions, inciting self-harm and failing to control hate speech, extremism or pornography. All serious and deeply concerning accusations, but the most destructive singular impact of Facebook is its impact on democracy.

“It is clear that Facebook has neither the will nor the humility to reform itself. Regulation is long overdue and urgent especially in view of the fact that the UK may soon hold a People’s Vote and the whole of the EU will soon be holding elections to the European Parliament.

“This report catalogues the appalling and destructive behaviour of Facebook, but also includes some important policy recommendations on how to regulate this social media monster. It is no exaggeration to say that the survival of our democracies depends on implementing such measures.”

Summary leaflet

Executive summary

Full report 

Press release of report launch in Brussels here