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Zuckerberg backs stronger internet privacy and election laws

"Internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content," Zuckerberg said.
Image: Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election.Andrew Harnik / AP file

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Saturday called for governments to play a greater role in regulating the internet, citing four areas where he believes better rules are needed. Zuckerberg said new regulations are needed to protect society from harmful content, ensure election integrity, protect people's privacy and to guarantee data portability.

Facebook has faced a torrent of public criticism over its handling of Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its policies on hate speech that many governments and users consider too lax. At the same time, conservative lawmakers in the U.S. have accused Facebook of political bias and censorship.

Zuckerberg proposed regulating harmful content by setting up independent bodies to set standards for what is considered terrorist propaganda and hate speech and is therefore prohibited.

"Internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content," Zuckerberg said. "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 is also creating an independent body so people can appeal its decisions. Zuckerberg said Facebook is currently working with governments, including French officials, to make sure its systems to review content are effective.

Zuckerberg also called for governments to pass legislation to regulate political ads on the internet, saying despite Facebook's efforts, it is difficult to determine when an ad should be considered political. "Our systems would be more effective if regulation created common standards for verifying political actors," Zuckerberg said. The Facebook CEO also endorsed a global framework to protect people's privacy along the lines of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation: "I believe it would be good for the internet if more countries adopted regulation such as GDPR as a common framework," Zuckerberg said. He also called for regulation to guarantee data portability, ensuring that users can move data between services. Zuckerberg endorsed a standard data transfer format toward this end.

"This is important for the internet — and for creating services people want," he said. "But this requires clear rules about who's responsible for protecting information when it moves between services."