To be honest, not many people thought much would come of this. While DA MP Phumzile Van Damme was optimistic that representatives from the social media platform would make an appearance, the social media platform’s statement at the time didn’t sound too promising.
Facebook to face the music
The DA’s invitation for a meeting with the social media giant has been formally confirmed by the Communications and Digital Technologies Committee — and that meeting will take place this month on 25th May 2021.
Our next question — will it be streamed and can we bring popcorn?
“Facebook’s agreement to the meeting is historic and a source of pride for South Africa as a first in Africa, and one of a few countries in the world to successfully secure a meeting with Facebook,” says Van Damme. “We commend Facebook for agreeing to the meeting which we hope will be constructive.”
“The reason for inviting Facebook was with the view of ascertaining what steps the tech giant will be taking in tackling harmful misinformation, particularly as we inch towards the 2021 Local Government Election. Facebook often tailors plans for countries ahead of elections to guard against harmful misinformation. We would like to see the same done for South Africa,” she added.
But wait, there’s more
Misinformation seems to be the main topics that may be addressed. Van Damme went on to say that the protection of private data of South African users is an issue. It’ll also focus on “… the beginning of discussions regarding the social media platform paying South African media houses for carrying their content as was recently successfully implemented in Australia.”
“The aim of discussions with Facebook will be to ensure that the interests of the people of South Africa are protected as well as upholding the constitutional right to freedom of speech. We will stand in opposition to any proposals that would curtail the right of South Africans to share their thoughts and opinions that fall under protected freedom of speech,” she said.
Oh, and the DA has also sent out similar invitations to Google and Twitter. Since Facebook’s agreed to show up in parliament, they really have no excuse, do they?