Facebook's Zuckerberg calls for governments to 'update the rules' of the internet

Sheri Evans
April 2, 2019

"We call on Mr. Zuckerberg to publicly lay out what his company will support for a U.S. privacy law, including GDPR and the regulation of digital marketing practices", he said.

To answer the issues regarding harmful contents on its platform, Zuckerberg said that he will agree with the lawmakers who have argued that "we have too much power over speech" and there is a need for "third-party bodies" to set standards on the distribution of harmful material and "measure companies against those standards". By calling for specific types of new regulation now, Facebook will be able to say that it's actually pro-government regulation - and can use its powerful lobbying arm to push for the specific rules it believes will be most beneficial.

Finally, Zuckerberg's desire for "data portability" would also have the convenient side effect of making it much more hard for regulators to argue that Facebook is a monopoly that should be broken up.

Speaking about harmful content, Zuckerberg said the company reviews the content that goes online but "at our scale" mistakes are bound to happen.

Because of Facebook's ability to control content - particularly speech - Zuckerberg said the company is creating an independent body so users can appeal decisions the social media giant makes regarding content removal. Zuckerberg's own company has itself faced serious problems with privacy of data, and he's appeared before Congress to discuss many aspects of his business and the internet in general as it pertains to security, privacy, and even political bias and manipulation.

It would be "much better if these rules are done on a multilateral and global level rather than a piecemeal way, which can contribute to the Balkanisation of the Internet", Facebook's head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said in an interview with Bloomberg. Facebook reported that it removed some 1.5 million copies of the massacre footage, with 1.2 million of them being automatically removed at upload.

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Mr Zuckerberg, whose company is under pressure for failing to adequately police hate speech and protect user privacy on its platform, wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post that a "standardised approach" for removing content would help keep internet companies "accountable". Under the new guidelines, advertisers in many countries need to verify their identities before they can buy a political ad.

I believe it would be good for the Internet if more countries adopted regulation such as GDPR as a common framework.

"New privacy regulation in the United States and around the world should build on the protections GDPR provides", he wrote.

It may seem obvious that Zuckerberg's proposal is self-interested, but it's important to remember that his ideas are, of course, created to help Facebook. "The real question, as the internet becomes more important in people's lives, is what is the right regulation".

Clear rules are required, however, about who is responsible for protecting information when it moves between services, Zuckerberg noted.

It's time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies and governments going forward.

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