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Facebook CEO asks regulators to play a ‘more active role’ in governing the Internet

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Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg called on Saturday for regulators to play a “more active role” in establishing rules that govern the internet, as the world’s largest social media network struggles to defuse criticism.

Zuckerberg, whose company is under pressure for failing to adequately police content and protect user privacy on its platform, wrote in a Washington Post article that a “standardised approach” for removing content would help keep internet companies “accountable.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Image: Reuters

As the CEO of tech giant which has always refuted strict regulation from authorities, this comes across as quite a change in stance from Zuckerberg. Until a year ago, the Facebook CEO was publicly “unsure” of whether regulation was necessary at all, described the GDPR as good in principle but only for Europe, and was suggesting self-regulation was the better approach.

Having received an increasingly hostile reception from the public and elected officials, including threats of regulation and talk of antitrust action, Zuckerberg does appear to have changed his view of how important regulation could be.

“By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it – the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things – while also protecting society from broader harms,” Zuckerberg wrote.

His comments followed a Washington Post report saying the US government and Facebook were negotiating a multibillion-dollar fine settlement over the company’s privacy lapses.

Look who’s talking. Are you talking about the rules of #internet that favor you? Enough is enough. You sold out the very essence of #privacy and still talking about the value in people’s lives. #Facebook #MarkZuckerberg

— Bricor Lau (@BricorLau) March 30, 2019

The funny part is, why does #MarkZuckerberg think he can pick and choose regulations which are compatible with #Facebook’s business model of selling user privacy based advertising? https://t.co/FBKGZS5taY

— EvolvingViews (@EvolvingViews) March 31, 2019

Zuckerberg also called for updated legislation focused on protecting elections, including new rules aimed at online political advertising that “reflect the reality of the threats” faced by social media companies. This, just days after Facebook decided to place all active and old inactive political ad campaigns into a searchable tag – ‘Ad Library’.

I thought Facebook was the government #MarkZuckerberg pic.twitter.com/CS9CfeyzTQ

— Degrassi High (@DegrassiHigh2) March 31, 2019

As noted in a report by TechCrunch, Facebook’s harmful content policies have long been an issue because of how confusing, inconsistent, and isolated they are when we talk about the likes of Instagram and WhatsApp. For example, Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was removed from Facebook but not from Instagram. Zuckerberg did not mention anything related to this.

Zuckerberg’s article comes after what can be seen as a difficult two-year period for Facebook. The terror attack in Christchurch recently, has also intensified the debate about the role that the internet plays in radicalising bad actors, terror, and hate groups.

With inputs from Reuters

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