Last Saturday, 30 March 2019, the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, published an op-ed in the Washington Post. In his op-ed, he called for new global regulations governing the Internet and recommended overarching rules for online content and data.
Zuckerberg is suggesting that Facebook’s own rules as to what constitutes as problematic are not enough. He implores institutions to come up with a global set of guidelines for companies to follow on the Internet. He argues that Facebook should not have such great power over speech and have to make such important decisions on its own. As such, the billionaire believes that while companies such as Facebook have an immense responsibility to ensure social media is used for the right reasons, governments and regulators need to play a much more active role in updating and upholding the rules for the internet.
What are his recommendations?
He recommends new regulations in 4 key areas of interest: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
While acknowledging that it is impossible to remove all harmful content, he suggests that the problem is the myriad of different companies that have their own set of policies and processes to regulate harmful content. Therefore, what is needed is a more standardized set of criteria that every social media/internet platform can follow to identify what is harmful and what isn’t.
In view of election integrity, Zuckerberg believes that a common standard for verifying political actors is especially crucial in protecting election integrity. This is especially so as deciding whether an ad is political or not isn’t always straightforward across different legal standards between different countries.
To Zuckerberg, the argument for privacy and data portability is simple – there needs to be regulatory parameters and limits that protect an individual’s data which specify how the data is supposed to be or can be used.