Co-founder and Chief Executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has explained why he allows politicians to spread lies and falsehoods on Facebook, stressing that free speech is fundamental and that more speech will eventually expose any falsehood and lies.
A US Senator, Elizabeth Warren had accused Facebook of being a “disinformation-for-profit machine” while other notable personalities have called for some stringent regulation of social networking sites, especially Facebook which has become a vehicle for spreading lies and hate.
Recently, Marc Beniff, Chief executive of online software maker Salesforce, stated that social network “needs to be held accountable for propaganda on its platform.”
In a somewhat rambling 35-minute speech at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall, Mr. Zuckerberg responded to his critics who argue that social network needed to be arbiters of speech, emphasising that Facebook is meant to give a voice to everyone and not to muzzle voices of some people who it judges as spreading lies or falsehoods.
“People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world — a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society,” he opined, adding that in spite of the disorder and ‘chaos’ of free speech, “the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us.”
“I’m here today because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression,” he maintained.
Facebook with over 2 billion users has become a major source of political advertising and spread of propaganda and even hate speech, with many called for the power of it to be subdued.
Facebook has been implicated in scandals involving the inappropriate use of user information and data to third parties in order to influence electoral outcomes.
Facebook’s algorithm that feeds users what they want regardless of whether or not it is the truth has been much criticised by many experts since Facebook acts as a publisher without noting implications and without fact-checking.
But Facebook has argued that everyone deserves to be heard and that eventually the truth will be known as more voices speak up and that it will not want to play the role as a fact-checker.