Mark Zuckerberg talks privacy and regulation
I can kind of get why, politically, saying you want to break up the companies feels nice.”
Many people have made the argument for breaking up Facebook, including Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren. Shockingly, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg does not agree. He claims it would be harder to address social issues such as election integrity and the spread of harmful content.
“Breaking up these companies wouldn’t make any of those problems better. … We have an ability now, because we are a successful company and are large, to go build these systems that are unprecedented … more sophisticated than a lot of governments have,” Zuckerberg said at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Being smaller doesn’t make the issues any different, he said, pointing to services with far fewer users such as Reddit and Twitter. He says the answer is making sure there is more regulation and that companies all follow the same rules.
“It’s not the case that if you broke up Facebook into a bunch of pieces you suddenly wouldn’t have those issues. You would have those issues, you would just be much less equipped to deal with them.”
He also went on to say there's no evidence that the companies Facebook has bought — Instagram and WhatsApp, specifically — would have been more innovative on their own: "Some mergers can be bad for innovation. These weren’t."
Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday that Facebook will continue to mark videos that are clearly false or manipulated and limit their distribution across the social network – such as a recent one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was edited to make her appear to be slurring her words. But Facebook will not take such videos down, he said.
“If it’s misinformation, we say, okay, we don’t think it should be against the rules to say something that happens to be false to your friends,” he said Wednesday afternoon during an interview on stage at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Responding to a question from interviewer Cass Sunstein, Zuckerberg said he doesn’t think people want such content to be censored.
“If you’re just hiding things that are rumors, how are people going to refute them?” he asked. “I think it would be overreach to say, ‘Hey, you can’t say something that’s not correct to your friends.'”
He added that Facebook is “thinking through” what kind of policy it should have regarding deepfakes, which are videos created using artificial intelligence that appear to show someone doing or saying something they did not. Politicians and government officials have warned about their use ahead of upcoming elections.
The company is talking to “a lot of different experts” about deepfakes, he said, and as AI technology improves he thinks it’s “sensible” to have a specific policy that treats such content differently from how the company typically treats false information online.
Facebook wants some help making hard calls. CEO Mark Zuckerberg rehashed his position on government regulation at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday. As the company has grown in size and spread around the world, it has had to make complicated decisions about balancing free speech and human dignity, or what rules to enforce around election advertising, Zuckerberg said.
"I really don’t think that as a society we want private companies to be the final word on making these decisions," said Zuckerberg.
He said Facebook is already doing everything laid out in the Honest Ads Act — which he called a "good floor" — but that he'd like those rules applied across the internet. He also mentioned the recent abortion referendum in Ireland, and how pro-life American groups targeted ads to Irish citizens. Ireland didn’t have a law on the books forbidding the practice, and said it was up to Facebook. “Overall the laws around election advertising are very out of date,” he said. He also called for more regulation around privacy and data portability.
After a somewhat last minute announcement, Mark Zuckerberg is going to speak at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday afternoon. The appearance is a chance for the Facebook (FB) CEO to address some of the many issues the company is facing, from Russian interference in elections to Facebook’s move to private communications. The company is facing investigations and a likely multi-billion dollar fine from the FTC, calls for increased regulation, and antitrust scrutiny from around the world.
On Wednesday afternoon, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is sitting down for a “conversation” on stage at the Aspen Ideas Festival to discuss “government regulation, shifts to privacy, and innovation.”
Despite the sensitive topics, the chat is likely to be a relatively safe space for the Facebook (FB) founder. The person asking Zuckerberg questions is not a journalist, but Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law School professor and author who has a new book out about conformity.
It's possible the questions won't exactly be hard hitting. Sunstein has done occasional consulting work for Facebook around social media’s impact on democracy, according to the company. Additionally, Facebook itself is a contributing underwriter to the Aspen Ideas Festival.