Facebook CEO Calls For Increased Government Regulation

Mark Zuckerberg thinks tech companies, including Facebook, have “immense responsibilities.” Acknowledging the problems related to social media, he stressed that tech companies can’t solve all those problems on their own. Instead, he opined, the government and regulators need to play a stronger role. “By updating the rules for the Internet,” he said, “We can preserve what’s best about it.” He focused on four areas that he said should be regulated: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

In The Washington Post, Zuckerberg goes into detail about how this partnership of tech companies, government and regulators should proceed. With regard to harmful content, he agreed with lawmakers’ assessment that Facebook has “too much power over speech,” saying that his company “shouldn’t make so many important decisions about speech on our own.”

Facebook is creating an independent body to allow people to appeal its decisions and is “working with governments, including French officials, on ensuring the effectiveness of content review systems.”

To protect elections, Facebook is now requiring advertisers to verify their identities before buying such ads, and “a searchable archive … shows who pays for ads, what other ads they ran and what audiences saw the ads.” But he added, the system would be “more effective if regulation created common standards for verifying political actors.” Legislation “should be updated to reflect the reality of the threats and set standards for the whole industry,” he said.

With regard to privacy and data protection, a “globally harmonized framework” is necessary, “in line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.” “It should establish a way to hold companies such as Facebook accountable by imposing sanctions when we make mistakes,” he said, adding that regulations should also “apply to new technologies such as artificial intelligence.”

Finally, regulation “should guarantee the principle of data portability,” which “should look more like the way people use our platform to sign into an app than the existing ways you can download an archive of your information.” But, he said, “this requires clear rules about who’s responsible for protecting information when it moves between services” and that requires common standards. He supports a standard data transfer format and the open source Data Transfer Project.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Zuckerberg’s opinion piece “follows a difficult two years for the company, which has been assailed by legislators and regulators” for missteps in all the issues he mentioned. His recommendations “would require international cooperation, such as his proposal that governments worldwide adopt rules akin to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.”

Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Google head Sundar Pichai have “also have suggested the U.S. pursue stricter privacy rules.” WSJ points out that Zuckerberg’s suggestions are similar to “proposals made by Facebook opponents within just the past few years.”