For the past few months, the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has been investigating fake news and the deliberate dissemination of misinformation online.

We’ve taken evidence, on both sides of the Atlantic from numerous academics, politicians, tech-companies and journalists but I think we have been as astonished as everyone else by the scale of this week’s revelations regarding Facebook’s catastrophic data breaches and the activities of the deeply sinister Cambridge Analytica.

One positive that could emerge from this crisis however is that the days of the unregulated, self-policing, digital Wild-West, wherein giant tech companies and shadowy political organisations can harvest, manipulate, trade in and profit from the personal data of millions of innocent, unsuspecting people, could be coming to an end.

No one joined Facebook, Google or Twitter to surrender control of their personal data - and that of their friends – to a company like Cambridge Analytica.

This privately owned 'strategic communications' company, which has links to the very heart of political power, both here in the UK and America has shown how easy it is to subvert the democratic political process. It’s a situation that can’t go on and it’s now imperative that government takes action to stop it.

But can we trust this government to act? As the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford pointed out at PMQs on Wednesday, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories has been run by a chairman of the Oxford Conservative Association, while their founding chairman was a former Conservative MP. And a current director appears to have donated more than £700,000 to the Conservative party.

Yet behind this veneer of establishment respectability, this is a company which seeks to influence elections and referendums by using the information they have collated about individuals to then - in the words of Christopher Wylie, the former Director of Research of Cambridge Analytica - “target their inner demons”.

This profoundly immoral practice was almost certainly used in the Trump presidential campaign and I reckon there is a whole lot more still to emerge about the covert role Cambridge Analytica played in the 2016 EU Referendum.

Few who have read the transcript of his appearance before the DCMS Select Committee will be surprised to learn that Alexander Nix, their (now suspended) old-Etonian CEO, has been recalled by Committee to explain the many "inconsistencies” in his original testimony.

And of course Cambridge Analytica’s main source of data was Facebook.

So when a seemingly humble and contrite Mark Zuckerberg finally emerged, blinking from his bunker at the end of last week promising to “fix” Facebook, his offer was far too little, much too late.

Because in his absence, we’d been woken up to the fact that social media platforms weren’t the benign, fun spaces we’d been told they were and had hoped them to be.

Instead they’d become vehicles for the likes of Cambridge Analytica to gather unimaginable amounts of personal data for the purpose of undermining democracy and influencing elections around the world.

We had also discovered before Zuckerberg’s re-emergence that the Cambridge Analytica scandal wasn’t actually news to Facebook.

Their former platform operations manager Sandy Parakilas had told the DCMS Select Committee on Wednesday, that Facebook had known about this massive data breach for the previous two and a half years but had chosen not to do very much about it.

Indeed they had been warned by Parakilas himself back in 2012, that because of their lax data security procedures, such a serious breach was almost inevitable.

So please forgive me if I don’t buy into Zuckerberg’s Bambi-eyed “mea culpa”.

Perhaps had Facebook’s operatives stormed the offices of Cambridge Analytica thirty months ago, I may have had a bit more sympathy for them but for them to act only after this scandal had been exposed in the press, was a hollow, meaningless PR stunt; a PR stunt topped only by Cambridge Analytica’s suspension of Alexander Nix for infringing the company’s “values”.

I can’t help but feel that for both companies, their anger isn’t about what they’ve done, their anger is about having been caught doing it.

Right now, social media organisations enjoy legal privilege and the Electoral Commission is powerless to police foreign interference. The fact that, as I write this, the Information Commissioner is still waiting for a warrant to enter Cambridge Analytica’s London HQ to gather evidence about this unprecedented data breach scandal, simply beggars belief.

Something has gone badly wrong with the social media platforms and the tech companies have shown themselves incapable of fixing it. It’s now time for government to intervene and establish a fit-for-purpose legislative framework, one that protects users of these platforms.

For too long the tech companies have absolved themselves of responsibility for what is on their sites by seeking to portray themselves as simply neutral hosts for other people’s content. That position is no longer a tenable.

I can understand and indeed, I have some sympathy for the argument that perhaps the “heavy-hand” regulation that exists, for TV, radio and the press may not be the best model for social media and that a bespoke legislative framework, one that recognises their unique position may have to be found.

But after this week, I sincerely believe the debate has now moved on from should these platforms be regulated, to how should these platforms be regulated.

Brendan O'Hara MP is the frontbench spokesperson in the Commons for the SNP on digital, culture, media and sport issues. His is also a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee.