Mark Zuckerberg on Free Speech

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg openly defended free speech but also promised to obstruct distribution of content he doesn’t like.

I appreciate Mark Zuckerberg saying that he believes in free speech. His critics in Europe don’t even pretend to believe the government should not censor ideas. They want the government to simply prohibit ideas from being expressed.

Zuckerberg does not accept that premise. He thinks even holocaust deniers have a right to free speech.

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The only problem is that Zuckerberg still wants to manipulate distribution based on content. So he won’t deplatform ideas he disapproves of, but he will reduce their audience.

Do we want to use a platform where Zuckerberg controls what we see to some extent?

The Guardian reports, “Zuckerberg defends Facebook users’ right to be wrong – even Holocaust deniers.

Mark Zuckerberg defended the rights of Facebook users to publish Holocaust denial posts, saying he didn’t “think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong”.

In an interview with Recode published on Wednesday, the CEO also explained Facebook’s decision to allow the far-right conspiracy theory website Infowars to continue using the platform, saying the social network would try to “reduce the distribution of that content”, but would not censor the page.

Zuckerberg’s comments came the same day that Facebook announced a new policy pledging to remove misinformation used to incite physical harm.

The CEO’s remarks to Recode have reignited debates about free speech on the social network at a time when Facebook is continuing to face scrutiny over its role in spreading misinformation, propaganda and hate speech across the globe.

Last year, the Guardian reported on internal Facebook moderation documents which suggested that the company flouted Holocaust denial laws except in countries where it was likely to be sued or prosecuted.

[…]

He said Holocaust deniers were “deeply offensive”, but “I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong … It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak […].”

Zuckerberg said offensive speech can cross a line and face removal when it is harassing or endangering people: “We are moving towards the policy of misinformation that is aimed at or going to induce violence, we are going to take down … If it’s going to result in […] real physical harm, or if you’re attacking individuals, then that content shouldn’t be on the platform.”

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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