Facebook CEO says social media companies need to be government regulated

Facebook CEO says social media companies need to be government regulated
Source: NYTimes

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Saturday that social media companies need regulations from governments in order to deal with the increasing amount of harmful content online.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Zuckerberg said, “Even if I’m not going to agree with every regulation in the near term, I do think it’s going to be the thing that helps creates trust and better governance of the internet and will benefit everyone, including us over the long term.”

“In the absence of that kind of regulation, we will continue doing our best, we are going to build up the muscle to do it, to basically find stuff as proactively as possible,” Zuckerberg added.

Zuckerberg said content published on Facebook cannot be controlled to the same extent as content that appears in other media like newspapers because of the large volume of content published every day.

“Right now there are two frameworks that I think people have for existing industries – there’s newspapers and existing media, and then there’s the telco-type model, which is ‘the data just flows through you’, but you’re not going to hold a telco responsible if someone says something harmful on a phone line,” he said.

With about 100 billion posts published on Facebook daily, Zuckerberg says that it is “simply not possible to have some kind of human editor responsible to check each one”.

Acknowledging Facebook’s position as something between a telecommunication company and a newspaper, Zuckerberg suggested that some kind of third regulatory system is required, potentially a mix of existing rules for telecommunication and media companies.

Stopping the spread of false information

In recent years, social media companies like Facebook have had to deal with increasing public pressure to stop the spread of false information on their platforms. The social media giant has had to deal with the fallout from Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, as well as the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, which led to the launch of antitrust investigations into the company in 2019.

The company launched new political advertising policies in the US in 2018, which required political ads to display who had paid for them.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook had been slow to recognize how domestic and foreign actors were interfering in elections. He added that malicious actors were becoming more sophisticated in covering their tracks by masking the IP addresses of users.

Zuckerberg affirmed that Facebook has improved its work countering election interference by employing a team of 35,000 people to review online content and implement security measures.

Zuckerberg said that these employees, with the help of AI, currently suspend more than a million fake accounts every day.

“Our budget [for content review] is bigger today than the whole revenue of the company when we went public in 2012, when we had a billion users,” he said.