Mark Zuckerberg on Why Facebook Won't Remove 'Fake News' and 3 Other Takeaways From His Recent Interview
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“We’re not kids in a dorm room anymore, right?”
That’s what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Kara Swisher, co-founder of Recode, in a recent podcast interview. The full transcript is available here, but we pulled out some of the key takeaways -- including the company’s plans for regulating “fake news,” its new AI tools for monitoring content, Zuckerberg’s own mentor and what he sees as the new frontier for technology.
1. Facebook will not remove “fake news” -- it will simply reduce that content’s distribution.
Zuckerberg said he grapples with the balance between giving people a voice and keeping the community safe. “In this case, we feel like our responsibility is to prevent hoaxes from going viral and being widely distributed,” he said.
When it comes to false news, Zuckerberg’s approach is to make sure that the top items going viral or being distributed by Facebook on a large scale aren’t hoaxes or blatant misinformation. If users flag content as a potential hoax, it’s sent to a team of fact-checkers, and if they say it’s provably false, Facebook will reduce that content’s distribution and move it down in News Feed.
But the company won’t remove content from the platform -- even if it’s provably false -- unless it attacks individuals or will likely result in physical harm. “I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” Zuckerberg said. “I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.” Moving forward, organizations posting provably false content on their own pages will only be checked by a reduction in distribution via News Feed.
2. The company will prioritize monitoring fake accounts, advertisements and Facebook Live broadcasts.
Zuckerberg said the company is prioritizing monitoring on a large scale. Facebook’s content review team now numbers 20,000 people, he said, and the company is pouring resources into artificial intelligence (AI) tools that identify and remove fake accounts, as well as tools that flag and remove terrorist content.
Another thing Zuckerberg touched on: With the launch of Facebook Live, some individuals began to use it to broadcast self-harm or -- “in a few cases” -- suicide. He said the company built more AI tools and hired a team of 3,000 so they could up response time to Live videos within 10 minutes. (The company’s typical response time for content ranges from hours to one day.)
“In the last six months, we’ve been able to help first responders get to more than a thousand people who needed help quickly because of that effort,” he said.
3. Zuckerberg named Bill Gates as his mentor.
Zuckerberg called Microsoft founder Bill Gates one of his chief mentors and inspirations -- even before he knew him personally. “Growing up, I admired how Microsoft was mission-focused,” he said. “It was a company that had a clear social goal. … It was like an Apollo-like goal to me.”
Zuckerberg says he admires Gates’s “second act” with charitable giving, saying he hopes to follow in the philanthropist’s footsteps by making it a priority right now.
As for others he admires? Zuckerberg emphasized the team he works with on a daily basis -- specifically that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg taught him much of what he knows about leadership, business and building organizations. “I always tell people that you should only hire people to be on your team if you would work for them,” he said.
4. Virtual and augmented reality is the new frontier, according to Zuckerberg.
Every 10 to 15 years, Zuckerberg said he sees a new computing platform emerge that’s better at capturing the human experience. That’s why he thinks virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will soon be a “really big deal.” He brought up the history of the internet, saying it started as primarily text, moved to emphasize images, then prioritized video -- and he says he believes VR and AR are likely next.
“I do think that we’re gonna move towards this world where eventually you’ll be able to capture a whole experience that you’re in and be able to send that to someone,” he said. “I think that that’s just going to be an amazing technology for perspective -- taking and putting yourself in other people’s shoes [or] being able to feel like you’re really physically there with someone even when you’re not.”