Zuckerberg: I Don't Care If You Like Me, I Just Want To Be Understood
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"My goal for this next decade isn't to be liked, but to be understood," he said in a Wednesday earnings' call. "In order to be trusted, people need to know what you stand for."
Zuckerberg made the statement as the social network's reputation has taken a dive among consumers. The company's past privacy scandals, and struggles to battle misinformation while fending off allegations of censorship have infuriated users and US lawmakers across the political spectrum.
In Wednesday's call, Zuckerberg blamed part of the problems on trying too hard to be liked. "We didn't always communicate our views as clearly because we worried about offending people. This led to some positive but shallow sentiment towards the company," he said.
As a result, Facebook is going to try set the record straight on the company's principles —regardless if people like them or not. This includes standing up for the company's business model, which relies on tracking people's browsing habits to serve them relevant ads. Critics claim the targeted advertising amounts to surveillance, but Zuckerberg sees it differently; he argues the social network is "standing up for giving small businesses more opportunity and sophisticated tools" to reach the right consumers. Users, on the other hand, get free social networking services and messaging products.
The company also plans on defending Facebook's approach to content moderation. Zuckerberg plans on framing the company's stance as standing up for people's right to speak out and form communities, despite concerns that his social network has been too slow to crack down on hate and misinformation.
Another issue important to Facebook is encryption. The Justice Department has been demanding the company reverse its plan to expand encryption across Facebook's services. Federal agents cite the need to track down criminal suspects and child predators. But Zuckerberg says his company is going to stand up for encryption, and the need to ensure people's digital privacy.
"These positions aren't always going to be popular, but I think it's important for us to take these debates head on," he added. "I know there are a lot of people who agree with these principles, and there are a lot more who are open to them and want to see these arguments get made. So expect more of that this year."
To win back trust, Zuckerberg has also been working to prevent Facebook from being abused to misinform voters during the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election. Four years ago, Russian operatives exploited the social network to spread fake news and ads to U.S.-based users.
"We were behind in 2016," Zuckerberg said in Wednesday's call. "But after working to protect elections in countries across the world from the EU to India to Mexico to the US midterms for the past few years, we think our systems are now more advanced than any other company."
That all said, Facebook has taken the controversial position to allow US political candidates to make false and misleading claims in their political ads posted over the social network. Democratic presidential candidates have blasted the policy, but Zuckerberg says he's fighting for free speech.
"There will still be debate about what kinds of political speech should be allowed, especially as the 2020 elections heat up," he added. "But by any objective measure our efforts on election integrity have made a lot of progress."