Though Facebook's lobbying associations spent the whole debate over the EU Copyright Directive arguing (correctly) that algorithmic filters to catch copyright infringement would end up blocking mountains of legitimate speech (while still letting through mountains of infringement), Facebook secretly told the EU Commission that it used filters all the time, had utmost confidence in them, and couldn't see any problems with their use.
In particular, Facebook endorsed Audible Magic's audio filters.
Audible Magic also secretly lobbied the EU to mandate the use of its products, like a private prison company lobbying for harsher sentences. Its lobbying materials were an Orwellian masterpiece of doublespeak and deception.
Part of the entertainment industry's narrative about the Copyright Directive has been accusations that Big Tech was spending a fortune to lobby against regulation. And while there was an ocean of dark money spent over the Directive, it was mostly spent by proponents of the Directive, and far from objecting to being thrown in the copyright filter briar patch, Big Tech was secretly not all that upset with the idea that the EU would force every small competitor to shut down, leaving a wide open field for American companies to dominate the internet forever.
The Facebook lobbying docs were uncovered by Corporate Europe Observatory, the same investigators who unravelled the lobbying spending over the Directive; they were then analysed and reported out by Laura Kayali for Politico.
Referring to content protected by copyright, Facebook also told the Commission in April 2015 that “every content uploaded by users is filtered through Audible Magic software before actual upload. The measures taken are kept at the level that would allow them to keep their status as a hosting provider.”
According to the Commission’s minutes of a March 2016 meeting, Facebook said it had “invested important resources to develop filtering mechanisms (copyright, bullying, terrorism, hate speech).”
In September 2017, one year after the copyright reform was presented, the social media giant told the Commission it preferred “collaborating and relying on technology rather than complex legislation that risks being implemented in a diverse manner in member states.”
“It’s very common for the Silicon Valley to push against regulation at all,” said Margarida Silva, of Corporate Europe Observatory. “But those emails show very clearly that they have specific non-public policy positions they are lobbying on,” Silva added, referring to the internal Commission documents.
Inside Facebook’s fight against European regulation [Laura Kayali/Politico]
Facebook's lobbyists in Brussels have pushed back against almost any regulation of the company's business in the EU. #EULobbying— CEO (@corporateeurope) January 24, 2019
Politico's @LauKaya followed up on a huge stack of internal Commission documents we obtained and presents this sharp analysis: https://t.co/HcctrN3XLj pic.twitter.com/XHxyxNTiME
This won’t come as a surprise to attentive followers of the EU #copyright reform: While publicly approving of civil society protests against #Article13, Facebook secretly lobbied the EU Commission IN FAVOUR of #UploadFilters like #AudibleMagic https://t.co/joWM1L0fOL pic.twitter.com/1mYs6f8tib— Julia Reda (@Senficon) January 24, 2019