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UK government wants Facebook to meet its censorship demands faster

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Facebook is facing renewed pressure to take timely action against Covid-related content that contradicts major health authorities after it was revealed it acted slowly against most of the take-down demands from the UK government.

A previously unpublished exchange between Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Sir Nick Clegg and former UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden revealed that Facebook did not remove 30% of misleading posts within 8 hours of a takedown request from the UK government.

Dowden wrote to Clegg in November 2020 to complain that since the beginning of the pandemic, Facebook had only responded to 30% of the posts flagged by his department within 48 hours. The UK’s Culture Ministry has a dystopian-sounding “misinformation unit,” whose work is to flag “dangerous and incorrect claims about the virus.”

Facebook claimed that it responded to most reports from the government “within hours.” It said the 30% figure mentioned referred to the content that was taken down, not the response time.

Regardless, the company is facing renewed pressure from proponents of censorship. Chairman of the Commons committee on digital, culture, media, and sport Julian Knight said that Facebook should “clean up its act” by responding to 99.9% of the flagged content in time.

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