Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and co-founder, testifies before Congress in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC on October 23, 2019. Zuckerberg spoke out about Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency Libra and how his company will handle misleading and false information from political leaders during 2020. He also discussed how the company handles users' data privacy.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was upbeat at Monday's company's third quarter earnings call. He defended its research regarding how users use its services, and he did so based on numerous reports Monday that were based on documents that had been leaked by an ex-employee.
Zuckerberg stated that "good faith criticism helps us to get better." My view is that we are seeing a coordinated effort by several people to selectively leak documents in order to create a false image of our company. We have an open culture where we encourage research and discussion about our work to make progress on complex issues that don't just concern us.
Zuckerberg stated that Facebook does this work because it cares about making this right.
Frances Haugen provided the reports from 17 U.S. news outlets. She was an ex-employee who provided documents to Congress and Securities and Exchange Commission in pursuit of whistleblower status. They are based on an earlier series that was based upon the same documents as The Wall Street Journal. Hearings were held in Congress and elsewhere.
According to the reports, Facebook knew that its services could have a negative impact on users' mental health and send them polarized recommendations. They also spread potentially dangerous misinformation. Facebook has made all necessary steps to ensure safety, but its critics claim it hasn’t done so quickly or boldly enough.
Zuckerberg's argument emphasized that Facebook's problems are a reflection on society.
Zuckerberg stated that these issues aren’t solely about social media. "This means that, no matter how Facebook acts, we won't be able to solve these problems on our own.
While he claimed that polarization started rising in the U.S. before I was born, he also pointed to unspecified research showing that countries using similar social media have seen stagnant or declining levels of polarization.
He stated that Facebook must often choose between supporting law enforcement investigations or providing encryption.
He said, "It's a sound bite to say we don't solve the impossible trade-offs, because we're only focused on making money. But, the truth is that these questions aren't primarily about our business but about balancing difficult social values."
Zuckerberg stated that he had called for regulation to ensure that companies such as Facebook don't have to make those trade-offs.
He expressed pride in the work Facebook did and highlighted the company's investment in safety and security.
He said that he was concerned about the negative impact of Facebook's research on other businesses doing similar work.
He said, "I worry about the incentives we are creating for companies to be as introspective" "But I'm committed to this work because it will be better for our business and our community over the long-term."