Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tackled Russia’s use of the giant social network as a propaganda platform at the start of the earnings call today to discuss Q3 earnings, saying he’s “dead serious” about cracking down on such malicious abuses.
Zuckerberg pledged to meet the problem head-on, doubling the number of people working on safety and security, bolstering the engineering resources devoted to tackling the problem and improving artificial intelligence to do a better job of identifying harmful content.
Facebook is so serious about eradicating fake news, hate speech and malicious content that it will cut into profits, he said.
“I’m dead serious about this, and the reason I’m talking about this on our earnings call is that I’ve directed our teams to invest so much in security — on top of the other investments we’re making — that it will significantly impact our profitability going forward,” Zuckerberg said during the call. “And I wanted our investors to hear that directly from me.”
Zuckerberg said eradicating such content will make for a better experience for Facebook’s 2 billion-plus users and also is important “for society as well.”
It’s a “hard problem” to solve, Zuckerberg admits. But he said AI can scour millions of pieces of content and “flag” sensitive content for humans to review. People will make the ultimate judgment about whether something should be removed from the site. It’s similar to the approach the social network has taken in its work on suicide prevention.
This combination of technology and people can help accelerate the process, Zuckerberg said.
“This is really important, and this is our priority,” he said.
Zuckerberg’s remarks come as Facebook has drawn criticism in Washington for being slow to react to manipulation of is platform by Russian operatives, who used the sprawling social network to spread misinformation and sow social unrest.