Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called for the world's governments to take a "more active role" in regulating the internet and creating rules that tech giant's such as his can follow to protect society from "broader harms".
Tech companies are currently tasked with making decisions about what speech is harmful and what constitutes political advertising, as well as preventing sophisticated cyberattacks. But, as Zuckerberg points out in an op-ed he wrote for The Washington Post, "if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn't ask companies to make these judgments alone".
"From what I've learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: Harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability," he stated.
As Zuckerberg pointed out, while Facebook continually reviews its policies with experts, the sheer quantities of content that come through its platform mean that mistakes will always be made, and people will disagree with its decisions. For example, the company faced criticism when it banned white supremacy from its platform last year while letting white nationalist content through – a situation it attempted to rectify last week. He called for companies to publish transparency reports, as Facebook already does, and suggested it works to set "the baselines" to deal with harmful content.
Zuckerberg also called for legislation to be updated to reflect the state of political advertising, suggesting that more countries should adopt regulations similar to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and organizations should set clear rules that guarantee data portability. He added that he believed Facebook had a responsibility to help address such issues.
However, given Facebook's chequered history in all the areas Zuckerberg has outlined, his suggestions have been met with fierce criticism, with people pointing out that the Facebook chief has refused several invitations to take accountability for his company's actions.
Mark Zuckerberg now says he wants to discuss internet regulation with lawmakers around the world. He should start by finally accepting @commonscms invitation, or come to our international grand committee in Ottawa in May to which he’s already been invited. https://t.co/PYjJDnaN8C
— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) 30 March 2019
Others have claimed that he is simply playing lip service as a PR move or suggesting regulations that will ultimately squash competitors.
When a large company calls for regulation, what they are really requesting are regulatory costs that serve as barriers to entry, protecting them from upstart competitors. It means nothing else. Ever. https://t.co/qdpzlrZvf7
— Michael Arrington (@arrington) 31 March 2019