Facebook has long been accused of being instrumental to the spread of misinformation around the globe and being weaponized to shape the outcome of elections.
In a speech to Georgetown University on Thursday (Oct 17), Mark Zuckerberg addressed the issue by arguing for the right to freedom of speech and expression.
Zuckerberg explicitly stated during his speech that Facebook does not fact check political ads.
“We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying. And if content is newsworthy, we also won’t take it down even if it would otherwise conflict with many of our standards.”
Zuckerberg added, “I know many people disagree, but, in general, I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy.”
In developing Facebook, Zuckerberg said that he wanted to build a service that provides gives people a voice and brings them together for a common cause.
“The most repressive societies have always restricted speech the most — and when people are finally able to speak, they often call for change,” Zuckerberg said.
He cited the USA’s First Amendment which protects the right to free speech and freedom of the press, but also said that tech companies like Facebook needs to draw the line and identify “what counts as dangerous speech online.”
Facebook allegedly now focuses on “authenticity and verifying accounts” to determine whether content is taken down or allowed on the platform. The company is also preventing the spread of misinformation, especially harmful inaccurate medical advice, by “making sure complete hoaxes don’t go viral.”
He added that tech companies are not responsible for identifying what counts as credible information, but that people should know it themselves.
“As long as our governments respect people’s right to express themselves, as long as our platforms live up to their responsibilities to support expression and prevent harm, and as long as we all commit to being open and making space for more perspectives, I think we’ll make progress.” -/TISG