Looking back, Facebook has been at the center of ample debate regarding internet regulations, so the executive’s choice of subject matter isn’t much of a surprise. Still, this means Zuckerberg is presenting a unique first-person perspective on the evolution of internet legislation, and the possible directions it’s heading.
In the article, Zuckerberg breaks his thoughts down to four main areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy, and data portability.
1. Harmful Content
The Silicon Valley heavyweight starts off by addressing a common concern many people have with Facebook; deciding what posts constitute harmful content.
“We have a responsibility to keep people safe on our services. That means deciding what counts as terrorist propaganda, hate speech and more,” wrote Zuckerberg. “Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree.”
Zuckerberg explains that Facebook is creating an independent entity that will start reviewing appeals surrounding moderated content to limit its influence over public discourse.
He also suggests all major internet-based services be required to publish transparency reports like Facebook already does. His belief is that federal guidelines regarding what constitutes harmful content will help companies improve their content managing efforts.
2. Election Integrity
The billionaire’s second proposal calls for stronger legislation to protect elections on internet platforms. The New York Times has reported elements of the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Moreover, the Times named “social media fraud” as a tactic used by Russian operatives.
The billionaire notes, “Facebook has already made significant changes around political ads” to stop similar interference from taking place in the future. Notably, the platform now restricts users from purchasing political ads until they verify their identities. Moreover, the company has built a public archive that tells readers who paid for which advertisements.
But despite these actions, Zuckerberg claims more needs to be done. How so? According to the social media innovator, Facebook’s systems could be significantly better at managing political advertising if legal standards existed to verify the online activity of various special interests.
To combat these fears, Zuckerberg expresses “effective privacy and data protection needs a globally harmonized framework.” He then goes on to use the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation as an example of privacy legislation which he agrees with.
In his view, if done correctly, a global data regulation would protect user rights to information while allowing companies to access data necessary to provide effective services. He also mentions this framework must account for incoming tech affecting future data regulation, such as advances in artificial intelligence.
4. Data Portability
Lastly, Zuckerberg covers how to best handle data portability regulations.
“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 also states data portability must change so users can access all of their available achieved information. But getting to that point means first establishing defined rules about data protection responsibilities.
Future Internet Regulations
Zuckerberg concludes the opinion piece with a collective call for action. “It’s time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies, and governments going forward.”
As it happens, proposals for a U.S. data regulation framework have been made, but they’ve gained little traction so far.
Whether the internet regulations Zuckerberg describes come into being is unknown. However, it is clear that major changes are inevitable. Regardless of what form those changes take, it’s clear internet services like Facebook will soon operate under very different conditions.
Find the full Washington Post article written by Mark Zuckerberg here.