The Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with several US officials as well as Donald Trump. The main criticisms of the platform, such as respect for privacy, were mentioned.
Mark Zuckerberg played the question-and-answer game on his trip to Washington DC. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Facebook CEO met with several US officials and Donald Trump. On Twitter, the President of the United States described a “constructive meeting” with the number one of the largest social network. Mark Zuckerberg was in the US capital for two congressional hearings, one on Facebook and other online giants, and the other on online moderation.
The discussions were particularly lively with Josh Hawley, a member of the Republican Party and Attorney General of the State of Missouri. “We had a frank conversation” sums up the politician on Twitter, who says he “challenged Mark Zuckerberg to do two things to prove his seriousness about political impartiality, protection of personal data and competition”. Josh Hawley asked Facebook’s CEO to sell WhatsApp and Instagram, the company’s mail and social network. But also to submit to an independent and external audit for all issues related to the censorship of publications or accounts on Facebook. “He said no to both.”
The points cited Josh Hawley punctuate the news of the largest social network for years. In 2016, during the US presidential election, Facebook was accused of being pro-Democrat, and to discard popular topics with conservative content. On the side of personal data, Facebook is struggling to leave behind the scandal Cambridge Analytica, revealed on March 2018, where a British company fraudulently exploited the private data of 87 million users. Last July, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), charged with ensuring compliance with competition in the United States, asked Facebook $ 5 billion to settle another dispute over the privacy of Internet users. The Congress has been examining for several months the possibility of writing a federal law on the protection of personal data.
In terms of competition, the social network crushes its opponents with 2.4 billion monthly users worldwide for its main platform. On the same criteria, WhatsApp has 1.5 billion Internet users and Instagram 1 billion. In early August 2019, the FTC opened an investigation into Facebook’s acquisitions to determine whether they were made to block potential competitors.
- New regulations
The Facebook CEO also had the opportunity to talk about the moderation of hate content and misinformation with Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of the State of Virginia. “Mark Zuckerberg has recognized that self-regulation will not be enough,” the politician told Bloomberg. Not wanting to be a “referee of the truth”, Facebook has always been reluctant to delete the “fake news” of its platform, preferring to reduce their visibility. Last June, for example, the social network did not erase a tampered video of Nancy Pelosi, president of the US House of Representatives. The excerpt in question slowed down with editing software, gives the impression that the politician is struggling to articulate as if she were drunk. He was echoed by many political opponents of Nancy Pelosi.
On hate content, the result is also contrasted. After the attacks in Christchurch in early 2019, Facebook has removed several accounts of far-right personalities deemed “dangerous”, as in May. But for this same drama, the social network, just like the Youtube platform (owned by Google), has been criticized for having trouble preventing the broadcast of the video of the killer. The latter had broadcast his atrocities live on Facebook. To set the bar, Mark Zuckerberg wants to surround himself better. Last Wednesday, the social network detailed its “independent monitoring committee” content, a group of 40 independent people who will have the power to resolve disputes related to withdrawals of publications on Facebook and Instagram, when an author disputes a decision of moderation of its contents. Its first members will be appointed at the end of the year and the committee should be ready to make its first decisions in the first half of 2020.