Facebook’s approach of seeking to be liked meant it didn’t always communicate its views clearly “because we were worried about offending,” he said on a conference call to discuss quarterly results. No more wishy-washy mister nice guy.
People “have to know what we stand for,” he said. Issues he cited taking a stand on include fighting censorship for people who want to start new communities; standing up for encryption against those who don’t like it; and continuing to enhance digital advertising despite opposition to targeted ads.
While weird, the pop-psychology reflects the degree to which Facebook, and the broader social media universe, is being forced to make up rules and decisions as they go along given the lack of any federal regulation of key behaviors for what are now the world’s biggest companies touching billions of people.
He said Facebook has made huge strides on privacy controls – with 1,000 engineers on the job – and on election monitoring since 2016. But he reiterated his call for a higher guidance.
“I don’t think private companies should be making these important decisions by themselves” about what kind of content is harmful and how to handle elections. “It’s not enough for us just to make principled decisions. They also have to be seen as legitimate. That is why I have called for clearer regulations from our government. Until we get them, our industry will continue to face a very high level of scrutiny.”
On the business side, he said Facebook’s priorities include continuing to build out private, more intimate social platforms, like private messaging and disappearing Stories that users are turning to as Facebook’s community has gotten to feel too big to some.
Facebook is also working to roll out iterations of e-commerce on all its platforms and to build on its growth in virtual and augmented reality, which he thinks is the next frontier in social media communication.
Regarding the upcoming presidential election, Zuckerberg said “there’s a lot that we’ll have to be watching out for this year,” But he noted that the company’s gotten lots of practice and insights from major elections around the world since 2016. He said Facebook’s own systems are more robust as are partnerships across intelligence and law enforcement internationally. He said fighting direct attacks is one thing, but what’s sometimes harder is when bad actors are not interfering directly in elections but trying to sow doubt about their legitimacy.
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