Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared on multiple media outlets today to address the Cambridge Analytica scandal and to answer pressing questions about the increasingly large role Facebook plays in today’s world. In a particularly enlightening moment in a Re/Code interview, Zuckerberg expressed trepidation and discomfort in being the arbiter of what’s right, and what’s wrong.
“A lot of the most sensitive issues that we face today are conflicts between real values, right? Freedom of speech, and hate speech and offensive content. Where is the line?” he said to Re/Code. “What I would really like to do is find a way to get our policies set in a way that reflects the values of the community so I am not the one making those decisions.” Fundamentally, he said, he’s uncomfortable making content policy decisions for people around the world.
In another interview with the New York Times, Zuckerberg said these were the kinds of problems he didn’t envision when he first started the website back in 2004. “If you had asked me, when I got started with Facebook, if one of the central things I’d need to work on now is preventing governments from interfering in each other’s elections, there’s no way I thought that’s what I’d be doing, if we talked in 2004 in my dorm room.”
Facebook has come under fire in recent months not only over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how foreign governments may have used the social network to influence the 2016 elections, but also for its seemingly callous attitude towards hate speech. Last year, ProPublica found that Facebook’s enforcing of its community standards were wildly inconsistent, where somehow white men were deemed as a more protected category than black children. Facebook has apologized for this since then, but it admits it’s still having trouble moderating sensitive material. Part of that issue, it seems, is because CEO Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to want to take a stand.
“[The] thing is like, ‘Where’s the line on hate speech?’ I mean, who chose me to be the person that did that?,” Zuckerberg said to Re/Code. “I guess I have to, because of [where we are] now, but I’d rather not.”