In recent years, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come under fire for allowing content on his platform that has not been adequately fact-checked.
This debate arose after anti-vaxxers began posting misinformation about the ‘supposed dangers’ of vaccines.
Last year, Democratic Lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez examined Zuckerberg during a hearing in front of the US House of Representatives. The exchange went viral.
Ocasio-Cortez, highlighting the issues with Facebook’s fact-checking process, sparked online criticism of Zuckerberg.
On Wednesday, Zuckerberg’s interview with HBO’s documentary news series, AXIOS, addressed this criticism. During the interview, Zuckerberg’s main claim was that “it is just wrong to consider Facebook a right-wing echo chamber.”
According to the interview, Zuckerberg believes he has been unclear about Facebook’s ideals on free speech
He said, “I just wish that I’d spent more time earlier on communicating about what our principles are and what we stand for — you know, things like free expression and voice and that we’re going to defend those.”
In regards to the anti-vaxxers, he expressed that he is ‘not ready’ to go against them. Unlike misinformation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Zuckerberg thinks anti-vaxxing narratives are not fundamentally misinformed.
In line with community rules, he does not want to suppress people’s opinions in case they have bad experiences with vaccines. However, critics have remarked that this sentiment does not account for the blatantly false information spread by anti-vaxxing narratives.
This apparently correlates with the narrative that Facebook has become “a right-wing echo chamber”. Claiming Facebook is a neutral space, Zuckerberg asserts his ‘confidence in democracy’.
He admits partisan discussions, particularly right-wing ones, are more heavily engaged with. However, he maintains Facebook is not strictly a space for conservatives.
At the end of the interview, Zuckerberg believes two things are necessary while moving forward. Firstly, he states that the Apple Store should be thoroughly investigated for the role it plays in manipulating content to cater to consumers.
Secondly, he agrees that threats should always be taken seriously, particularly those against influential people like politicians. He agrees that all content with ‘threatening’ undertones will be taken down on Facebook.