It is not right for Facebook to censor politicians or the news in a democratic set up, believes the social media giant’s founder Mark Zuckerberg. He said this while delivering a speech in Washington DC and assumed importance because the social media company had been facing criticism for not putting a ban on political advertisements that have dales news.
He had contemplated banning all political ads on his platforms, Zuckerberg added. He however ultimately decided that such a move give undue advantage to incumbent politicians and those that the media decided to cover. He also added that if he had decided to ban political ads, there was no clarity on where the social media platform would ultimately draw the line.
He instead decided that Facebook should “err on the side of greater expression”, he said
“We’re at another crossroads,” he said.
“We can either continue to stand for free expression, understanding its messiness but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us. Or we can decide that the cost is simply temporary. The future depends on all of us,” he added.
“And whether you like it or not. I think we need to recognize what is at stake, and come together to stand for voice and free expression at this critical moment,” he said.
As an example of a previous backlash against free expression, Zuckerberg brought in the reference of the imprisonment of Martin Luther King Jr’s in Birmingham Jail, Alabama.
However that similarity was criticized by the daughter of the late civil rights campaigner who said that one of the factors that led ot the murder of her father was disinformation spread by politicians.
While speaking at the occasion,. Zuckerberg also criticized the role being played by Chinese rival TikTok which, he alleged, was intentionally suppressing news about political protests in the country.
He also said that his failed attempts to launch Facebook and Instagram into mainland China had turned out to be good for the company. “I wanted our services in China because I believe in connecting the whole world and I thought maybe we can help create a more open society,” he explained. “But we could never come to agreement on what it would take for us to operate there there, and they never let us in.
“And now, we have more freedom to speak out and stand up for the values that we believe in and fight for free expression around the world.”
There was also criticism of Zuckerberg that he was bias against the right after news emerged last week that the multibillionaire had hosted private dinners at several of his homes since July in which conservative journalists, commentators and at least one Republican politician had been invited by the Facebook chief executive.
The company and Zuckerberg have also been criticized by some of the peer companies of the Silicon Valley.
Facebook was recently described as being the “new cigarettes – it’s addictive, bad for us, and our kids are being drawn in” by Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff. He argued in favor of breaking up the company so that it can be thwarted from gathering so much data about its users.
“Why they can’t say that trust is our highest value is beyond me,” he added.
(Adapted from BBC.com)