The founder of Facebook has published four ideas that he believes could help better regulate the internet.
Mark Zuckerberg’s four ideas revolve around harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
He published his thoughts in a Facebook Newsroom blog titled ‘Four Ideas to Regulate the Internet’, published on Saturday March 30.
Introducing his piece, he spoke how companies like Facebook have “immense responsibilities” today. This is because, as Zuckerberg’s first line outlined, ‘technology is a major part of our lives’.
“Every day we make decisions about what speech is harmful, what constitutes political advertising, and how to prevent sophisticated cyberattacks,” he wrote.
“These are important for keeping our community safe. But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone.
“I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.
“From what I’ve learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.”
Zuckerberg later went on to say Facebook has a responsibility to help address these issues. He is now “looking forward” to discussing them with lawmakers around the world.
Facebook has made several moves to tackle problems in these areas. But Zuckerberg says people shouldn’t have to reply on individual companies addressing issues by themselves.
In posting this, he has called for “a broader debate about what we want as a society”.
So, without further ado, what are Zuckerberg’s four ideas?
Harmful Content – it needs a standardised approach
Firstly, Zuckerberg discussed Facebook’s responsibility to keep people safe on its services. “That means deciding what counts as terrorist propaganda, hate speech and more,” he wrote.
“We continually review our policies with experts, but at our scale we’ll always make mistakes and decisions that people disagree with.
“Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree. I’ve come to believe that we shouldn’t make so many important decisions about speech on our own.”
Because of this Facebook is creating an independent body, so people can appeal their decisions. Meanwhile, they’re also working with governments to ensure content review systems are effective.
— Facebook (@facebook) March 30, 2019
Zuckerberg’s idea? He’s calling for a more standardised approach to the enforcement of standards on harmful content.
“One idea is for third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and measure companies against those standards,” he said. “Regulation could set baselines for what’s prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum.
“Facebook already publishes transparency reports on how effectively we’re removing harmful content.
“I believe every major internet service should do this quarterly, because it’s just as important as financial reporting. Once we understand the prevalence of harmful content, we can see which companies are improving and where we should set the baselines.”
Election Integrity – legislation needs updating
Legislation is important for protecting elections, says Zuckerberg. In fact, Facebook has already made “significant changes” around political ads. However, the boss believes there is more to do.
“Our systems would be more effective if regulation created common standards for verifying political actors,” he wrote.
“Online political advertising laws primarily focus on candidates and elections, rather than divisive political issues where we’ve seen more attempted interference.
“Some laws only apply during elections, although information campaigns are nonstop. And there are also important questions about how political campaigns use data and targeting.
“We believe legislation should be updated to reflect the reality of the threats and set standards for the whole industry.”
Privacy – call for new regulation and a common global framework
Zuckerberg added: “Third, effective privacy and data protection needs a globally harmonized framework.
“People around the world have called for comprehensive privacy regulation in line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and I agree. “I believe it would be good for the internet if more countries adopted regulation such as GDPR as a common framework.”
He argued that new privacy regulation should build on the protections GDPR provides. The Facebook founder is calling for it to protect people’s rights to choose how their information is used, while allowing companies to use information for safety purposes and to provide services.
He believes it shouldn’t require data to be stored locally. Moreover, he says it should establish a way to hold companies accountable, by imposing sanctions when mistakes are made.
“I also believe a common global framework — rather than regulation that varies significantly by country and state — will ensure that the internet does not get fractured, entrepreneurs can build products that serve everyone, and everyone gets the same protections,” he said.
“As lawmakers adopt new privacy regulations, I hope they can help answer some of the questions GDPR leaves open. We need clear rules on when information can be used to serve the public interest and how it should apply to new technologies such as artificial intelligence.”
Data Portability – clear rules to show who’s responsible for protecting information
Zuckerberg added: “Finally, regulation should guarantee the principle of data portability.
“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.
“This is important for the internet — and for creating services people want. It’s why we built our development platform.”
For Zuckerberg, true data portability should look more like the way people use his platform to sign into an app, rather than the existing ways we download an archive of our information.
Mark Zuckerberg is calling for more internet regulation. One reason? Rules could provide social media companies with some cover ahead of 2020 elections pic.twitter.com/GRdVX7ErqT
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 2, 2019
However, to achieve this he believes clear rules – about who’s responsible for protecting information when it moves between services – are needed.
Common standards have also been called for. This is why Facebook supports the open source Data Transfer Project and a standard data transfer format.
The Facebook founder concluded his blog post by calling for the ‘broader debate’. He added: “These four areas are important, but, of course, there’s more to discuss.
“The rules governing the internet allowed a generation of entrepreneurs to build services that changed the world and created a lot of value in people’s lives.
“It’s time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies and governments going forward.”
To read Mark Zuckerberg’s Four Ideas to Regulate the Internet blog in full, click the link.
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