Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, held an extensive employee conference today, dealing with allegations that Facebook allowed misinformation about elections and obscured the promotion of violence by President Donald Trump. While Zuckerberg said he should have given employees more transparency, he stood by what he described as a "fairly thorough" assessment of Trump's posts, saying that the decision to avoid labeling or removing was difficult but correct.
After a shot of The edge, Zuckerberg described, being upset about Trump's recent contributions, one of which warned protesters that "when the looting begins, the shootout begins." But "I knew I had to separate my personal opinion … from our policies and the principles of the platform we operate – knowing that the decision we made would make many people very upset." within the company and a lot of media criticism we'll get, ”said Zuckerberg. "It is likely that this decision has resulted in massive practical costs for the company to do what we think is the right move."
Facebook has followed a different path than Twitter, which has checked two Trump tweets about votes and restricted the protest comments for "glorifying violence". And Zuckerberg's decision has proved controversial among employees, some of whom held a virtual strike on Monday in protest. In line with last week's comments, Zuckerberg said the election had confirmed Facebook's commitment to freedom of expression. "Our service assumes that you can say what you want unless you cause some damage. We enumerate the damage and try to enforce it. And I think the default setting is correct," said he.
Zuckerberg argued that the guidelines that allowed Trump's post about shooting also protected content that was disturbing but valuable, such as the earlier footage of George Floyd's death by police officers. "I don't know many people who think that just because it was painful to see that it was somehow not good to let it go there," he said. "It's one aspect of giving people a voice that I'm quite proud of."
Some employees on the call were more ambivalent. "Why do the smartest people in the world focus on distorting or distorting our policies so as not to antagonize Trump instead of driving the progress of social problems?" asked a participant. Another pointed out some confusion as to whether Facebook's integrity chief, Guy Rosen, had been consulted. "I probably don't think it's great that we're not entirely sure whether the Vice President for Integrity was involved in an integrity decision that included civic issues about voter oppression and social violence, right?" She asked.
Zuckerberg called voter misinformation a key priority for Facebook in the coming months and said Facebook would set up a “voter hub” with relevant information similar to that of Facebook's COVID-19. He expressed particular concern that bad actors would target certain voters with frightening information about the corona virus. "It's something I'm really worried about – that we're going to be targeted by different people in different areas to talk about it, hey, there is a big health risk if you vote here," he said.
Zuckerberg also said the company could review its policy to limit or label messages that could promote violence if the United States experienced a "prolonged period of civil unrest". "We have some precedents for what that might look like," he said, citing how Facebook is dealing with countries with "ongoing violent conflict."
And he criticized The Wall Street Journal to the an article that suggests Facebook ignored the research on harmful polarization on its platform. "This piece of journalism is something I disagree with," said Zuckerberg. "This is very important to us and we will continue to study it. This does not mean that as a single researcher or engineer, you are correct in closing every idea or problem you come up with, or any mitigation that you suggest that we are. "
Facebook is likely to have more internal questions about its fact-checking guidelines. Have two employees resigned publicly about the company's dealings with Trump. Zuckerberg ended the call, however, with the assurance that the company's "net impact" on the world would be positive. "I think we gave many people a voice that they otherwise wouldn't have," he said. "I think defending the ability to do this is often controversial."