Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said there are four areas of the internet that need to be regulated, calling for new rules for harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

Facebook has resisted calls increased regulation in the past but Zuckerberg said there now needs to be a more active role for governments and regulators. 

Zuckerberg’s call, published as a op-ed in the Washington Post and on the Facebook blog said “by updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.”

Harmful content

With harmful content, Zuckerberg said Facebook continually reviews its policies with experts. But he said lawmakers tell him that Facebook has “too much power over speech” and the CEO agrees.

He explained Facebook will be creating an independent body so users can appeal its decisions.

“We’re also working with governments, including French officials, on ensuring the effectiveness of content review systems.

“One idea is for third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and measure companies against those standards.

“Regulation could set baselines for what’s prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum,” he added.

Facebook and other social media sites have been under fire after the Christchurch massacre where a livestream of the shooting was uploaded to its site as well as YouTube and Twitter.

The social media sites were in the midst of a tug of war continually taking down reposts of the horrific live feed. Last week, Facebook promised it would ban white nationalism and white separatism in the wake of the Christchurch shootings. 

Recently, Microsoft president Brad Smith said technology companies need to do better to combat hate speech.

Election integrity

Zuckerberg said while Facebook has made significant changes around political ads, deciding whether an ad is political isn’t straightforward.

He said the company’s systems “would be more effective” if regulation created common standards for verifying political actors.

“Online political advertising laws primarily focus on candidates and elections, rather than divisive political issues where we’ve seen more attempted interference.

“Some laws only apply during elections, although information campaigns are nonstop. And there are also important questions about how political campaigns use data and targeting. We believe legislation should be updated to reflect the reality of the threats and set standards for the whole industry,” he said.

Privacy

Zuckerberg said effective privacy and data protection needs a globally harmonised framework. He said it would be “good for the internet” if more countries adopted GDPR-like regulation.

He said the new regulation should protect a user’s right to choose how their information is used – while enabling companies to use your information for safety purposes and to provide services.

Mark Zuckerberg

“It shouldn’t require data to be stored locally, which would make it more vulnerable to unwarranted access. And it should establish a way to hold companies  such as Facebook accountable by imposing sanctions when we make mistakes,” he said.

Zuckerberg said a common global framework will ensure the internet does not get fractured, entrepreneurs can build products that serve everyone, and everyone gets the same protections.

He said, “We need clear rules on when information can be used to serve the public interest and how it should apply to new technologies such as artificial intelligence.”

Data portability

Zuckerberg noted regulation should also guarantee the principle of data portability.

“If you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. This gives people choice and enables developers to innovate and compete,” he explained.

He said true data portability should look more like the way people use our platform to sign into an app than the existing ways you can download an archive of your information.

“But this requires clear rules about who’s responsible for protecting information when it moves between services.”

There will also be the need of common standards, according to Zuckerberg, which is why Facebook said it supports a standard data transfer format and the open source Data Transfer Project.

He said, “I believe Facebook has a responsibility to help address these issues, and I’m looking forward to discussing them with lawmakers around the world.

“We’ve built advanced systems for finding harmful content, stopping election interference and making ads more transparent.

“But people shouldn’t have to rely on individual companies addressing these issues by themselves. We should have a broader debate about what we want as a society and how regulation can help.”

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