We can speculate as to the reasons Facebook has rescinded its policy of seeking to remove the videos posted by Mexican drugs lords (and others) to intimidate witnesses and opponents. The affect on legitimate advertisers, let alone parents, is not a matter of speculation.
How soon before we see the effect on their share price?
Will the result prove to be a more effective means of promoting self-regulation than the whinging claims of the Internet apologists that it is all too difficult and they should be left to put their own houses in order?
Or is their fear of reprisals from “the darker users of the Internet”, which is presumably what led to the policy being rescinded, too great.
This murky topic and the issues it raises adds a missing perspective to the self righteous debates over the issues raised by the Guardian in the wake of the material passed to it by Edward Snowden. Some of those abusing the Internet do not share their Western Liberal values – to put it mildly. Meanwhile the security services are focussed on gathering intelligence about who is doing what, in order to protect those in power, rather than the population at large.
So who could and should take what action to “improve” the behaviour of the US-based advertising funded search engines and social media operations? The “answer” is for those concerned to organise campaigns to boycott products promoted over their services, with the aim of getting major corporations to give instructions to their advertising agencies.
Placed in this context, the knee jerk reaction of David Cameron as a parent, not “just” a politician, is spot on. I do hope that he will follow this up at his Child On Safety Summit on 18th November with a focus on making it easier for parents to not only protect their children with products that are fit for purpose but also to exercise their power as consumers. This should also be seen as an opportunity for groups like the Family On Line Safety Institute to educate their members as to risk of reprisals from consumers, not just drugs barons and their lawyers and lobbyists.