Commentary

Facebook Failing to Appease Some Policymakers

With the threat of regulation hanging over Facebook’s head, CEO Mark Zuckerberg is intensifying efforts to shape policymakers’ positions on the subject.

Addressing world leaders at the Munich Security Conference this week, Zuckerberg touched on a number of issues ripe for regulation, from giving governments more insight into Facebook’s inner workings, to better defining “political advertising,” to curbing “fake news,” to giving people more control over their social data.

In conjunction with this appearance, Zuckerberg just published a new opinion piece in the Financial Times, along with a second white paper detailing Facebook’s position on content regulation.  

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Facebook published its first white paper on the topic last year, which followed another op-ed by Zuckerberg, in which he detailed his concerns about underregulating (and overregulating) the social media industry.

Among other themes, Zuckerberg continues to portray Facebook as a strong advocate for regulation.

Regarding the regulation of speech, Zuckerberg writes in his latest op-ed: “I don’t think private companies should make so many decisions alone when they touch on fundamental democratic values.”

Facebook’s co-founder and CEO also continues to portray the social giant as a friend to policymakers around the world.

Among other efforts, “Facebook already publishes more detailed reports about harmful content than any other major internet service, and we’ve shown regulators how our systems operate,” Zuckerberg insisted this week. “We’re also looking at opening up our content moderation systems for external audit.”

But not all lawmakers are buying what Zuckerberg is selling.

Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, said this week that Facebook’s vision for its own regulation is insufficient.

“It’s not enough,” the French commissioner told the Financial Times this week. “It’s too slow [and] it’s too low in terms of responsibility and regulation.”

As such, Breton is expected to join other E.U. lawmakers in proposing a single European data market, Business Insiderreports.

Although the details of the initiative have not yet been revealed, it is not likely to give Zuckerberg as much freedom as he would like to operate in the region. 

Meanwhile, some U.S. policymakers have grown outright hostile toward Facebook.

For example, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently bashed the company for what she described as its “shameful” business practices.

“They have been very abusive of the great opportunity that technology has given them,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) told members of the press last month. “They intend to be accomplices in misleading the American people.”

In addition, in a new piece in the Financial Times, billionaire philanthropist and liberal political activist George Soros--a frequent target of conspiracy theories by right-wingers--asserts that Zuckerberg "appears to be engaged in some kind of arrangement with Donald Trump that will help him to get re-elected"; that Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg should be removed from control of Facebook; and that the platform should stop accepting political ads.

4 comments about "Facebook Failing to Appease Some Policymakers".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, February 19, 2020 at 10:48 a.m.

    Who gets to regulate Soros?

  2. Teresa Reyes from Charles Barker Automotive, February 19, 2020 at 11:12 a.m.

    People admired the savvy use of social platforms that helped President Obama get elected.  Nancy Pelosi and Soros are fine with dissemination of messaging when it is what they want to hear.  Their suggestion to ousting FB leadership because they fear their political alignment sounds like McCarthy-ism. The freedom to choose your thoughts and opinions should be adamantly protected.  Debate should reveal truth.

  3. Kenneth Hittel from Ken Hittel replied, February 19, 2020 at 3:02 p.m.

    You do, Douglas, in the arena of public opinion; & of course you can also choose to contribute to the existing conspiracy theories or even invent a new one! 

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 19, 2020 at 9:37 p.m.

    Anyone watch the Zuckerborg congressional hearings ? Lied and lied. He and his cohorts cannot be trusted. One of the tennents of fascism is the control of media. Consolidation is getting worse everyday with most of it being published on fbeast, the most powerful media publisher of media in the world, certainly in the US. When it was and still so easy to break it with Russian and other propaganda, give the nazi/white nationalists a huge platform. Speech is not really free. Nothing is free. Freedom is not free. Millions of people have died for freedom and do everyday. Let's not allow the death of freedom to be encouraged. 

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