Facebook CEO defends refusal to take down some content

Cheryl Sanders
October 18, 2019

It was against this backdrop that Zuckerberg took the stage Thursday morning for a speech he touted as his most comprehensive, unfiltered exploration of the content policy issues facing his company.

Facebook has come under pressure from a variety of groups for the way it handles paid political ads and other types of content that many users consider divisive.

"Right now, we're doing a very good job of making everyone angry at us", Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged.

"We have a number of approaches that we're going to take towards this, and we have a product called Lasso that's a standalone app that we're working on, trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico, is I think one of the first initial ones", Zuckerberg was quoted as saying.

Warren's ad goes on to say that while Zuckerberg didn't actually endorse Trump, Facebook has "given Trump free rein to lie on his platform - and then to pay Facebook gobs of money to push out their lies to American voters".

"Now some people believe that giving more people a voice is driving division rather than bringing people together", he said.

"A lot of people felt like we were acting without hearing a lot of important perspectives and the toll on soldiers and their families and our national psyche was severe, yet most of us felt like we were powerless to do anything about it". Given Facebook's multitude of issues with content moderation, bias in surfacing content, and censorship on the platform, we expect to hear some interesting tidbits on the future of free speech online during his address.

"We should be proactive and write policies that help free expression triumph around the world", he said, adding at another point in the speech, "Increasingly, we're seeing countries try to impose their speech restrictions beyond their country..." "In a democracy, people should decide what's credible, not tech companies".

"The impulse is to pull back from free expression", Zuckerberg claimed.

The company exempts politicians' ads from fact-checking standards applied to other content on the social network.

"Zuckerberg attempted to use the Constitution as a shield for his company's bottom line, and his choice to cloak Facebook's policy in a feigned concern for free expression demonstrates how unprepared his company is for this unique moment in our history and how little it has learned over the past few years", said Bill Russo, a spokesman for Joe Biden's presidential campaign.

The company's decisions have often been controversial, putting Facebook in a constant defensive posture with many government leaders who either think it is doing too much or not enough to police its properties.

In his speech, Zuckerberg said internet services like Facebook can still protect free expression while addressing problems that have been raised by this new technology. His arguments echoed the broader political concerns about China that have fuelled the Trump administration's trade war with the country, and its efforts to block the use of Chinese-made technology from US telecommunications infrastructure. Warren has proposed breaking up big tech companies.

Reuters reported in October 2018, citing sources, that Facebook executives briefly debated banning all political ads, which produce less than five per cent of the company's revenue.

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