The FINANCIAL — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for governments to work with online platforms to create and adopt new regulation for online content. On Wednesday, EU leaders will kick-start debate about new rules governing data and artificial intelligence.
For years, Facebook Inc. lobbied governments against imposing tough regulations, warning in some cases that they could harm the company’s business model. Now, it’s pleading for new rules for the good of its business. Zuckerberg reiterated that companies shouldn’t be in charge of making decisions that balance competing social values, and said he hopes that new laws will draw cleaner lines to help companies navigate those decisions – even as regulators in Europe are also investigating Facebook over its compliance with existing privacy and antitrust rules, Bloomberg reported.
The Facebook chief, on a trip to Munich and Brussels, is making it clear that he wants governments to provide more rules on data use, privacy and content. The tour comes just days before top EU officials are set to unveil proposals with major implications for tech firms. The latest call to action from Facebook’s founder comes as increased regulation looks inevitable, at least in Europe. On Wednesday, EU leaders will kick-start debate about new rules governing data and artificial intelligence, including facial recognition, CNN wrote.
“I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook’s business in the near term. But it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term,” Zuckerberg said. “We won’t agree with every proposal. Regulation can have unintended consequences,” he added. US lawmakers have investigated and questioned Facebook several times, with little effect. Thierry Breton, the French commissioner overseeing the bloc’s data strategy, rejected the plans after meeting Mr Zuckerberg, saying Facebook was being slow in coming forward with ideas on how to remove illegal content and warning that the EU was preparing to act, according to Financial Times.
EU justice chief Vera Jourova, who also met Zuckerberg, was equally adamant on Facebook’s role in the fight against online hate speech, disinformation and election manipulation. “Facebook cannot push away all the responsibility. Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg have to answer themselves a question ‘who do they want to be’ as a company and what values they want to promote,” she said. Breton will announce proposals on Wednesday aimed at exploiting the EU’s trove of industrial data and challenging the dominance of Facebook, Google and Amazon. It will announce rules to govern the use of artificial intelligence too, which will also affect companies such as Facebook, as reported by Reuters.
Since 2017, Facebook has dealt with the fallout from Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 and the launch of four separate antitrust-focused investigations into the company in 2019. Yet despite those obstacles and significant negative press coverage, Facebook usage has continued to grow, climbing from 1.86 billion monthly users in February 2017 to 2.5 billion monthly users in December. The company has also come under fire for not doing more to police private groups that are used to distill hate content. This became an issue for Facebook in July 2019 when ProPublica discovered a private group used by current and former Border Patrol agents to make jokes about the deaths of immigrants or post derogatory comments about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, according to CNBC.
Governments, academics and others are debating how to hold internet platforms accountable, particularly in their efforts to keep people safe and protect fundamental rights like freedom of expression. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for governments to work with online platforms to create and adopt new regulation for online content, noting, “It’s impossible to remove all harmful content from the Internet, but when people use dozens of different sharing services — all with their own policies and processes — we need a more standardized approach.” Facebook published a white paper setting out some questions that regulation of online content might address.