According to experts, this might not mean what you think it means.
This past weekend, Mark Zuckerberg visited Europe to show his support for regulation. Yes. That’s right. This is great news right? Unfortunately, no. This doesn’t mean that Zuckerberg had a change of heart. According to experts, the “regulation” Zuckerberg asks for is his definition of regulation. They say that he continues to avoid responsibility for the bad and damaging content on his platform, all while making sure the regulations approved are “toothless”.
The Facebook CEO dismissed all the evidenced claims about his platform contributing to political polarization, among other things, at the Munich Security Conference last Saturday. He argued that the social media platform should be regulated like something in between a newspaper and a telecommunications company, while acknowledging that it would simply be impossible to keep up with the insane amount of content posted everyday – the amount is in the billions.
Later Sunday, the Financial Times published an interview with Mark Zuckerberg where he expanded his willingness to welcome regulation. He had stated before that the areas for which he mostly supports state regulation are “elections, political discourse, privacy, and data portability.” In the op-ed piece, he told FT “I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook’s business in the near term but it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term.” He later added “to be clear, this isn’t about passing off responsibility.”
After this, experts and academics continued to criticize Zuckerberg for his “hypocritical” stance and Facebook’s overall lack of accountability for many issues such as the rise of extremist groups who use Facebook to nurture hate speech. They come to this conclusion because there has been a significant investment in lobbying efforts from Facebook towards the lawmakers involved in the development of Europe’s Digital Services Act, a law that intends to regulate the internet.
As future media professionals, this is obviously something to follow closely; but it’s also important to analyze on a deeper level how an American company (in this case Facebook) has become so powerful, it aims to control or seriously influence the decisions of other countries.