Zuckerberg: ‘We’ve Tried to Distinguish Ourselves as Being Really Strong in Favor of Giving People…Free Expression’

By CNSNews.com Staff | May 29, 2020 | 3:03pm EDT
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(CNSNews.com) - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with Dana Perino on Fox News on Thursday that Facebook is “strong in favor of giving people a voice and free expression” but does draw the line “if people are doing things like promoting violence or saying things that are going to cause imminent physical harm.”

Zuckerberg addressed the issue when Perino asked him about Twitter did a fact check on a tweet President Donald Trump had sent out on mail-in voting.

“We have a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg said. “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”

“I think in general private companies probably shouldn’t be—or, especially these platform companies—shouldn’t be in the position of doing that,” he said.

“I think that it’s good for different companies to have different policies on this stuff, but at Facebook we’ve tried to distinguish ourselves as being really strong in favor of giving people a voice and free expression,” Zuckerberg told Perino.

“And I certainly think our policies have distinguished us from some of the other tech companies in terms of being stronger on free expression and giving people a voice than a lot of others out there,” he said.

Zuckerberg then explained Facebook’s policy of taking action, however, “if people are doing things like promoting violence or saying things that are going to cause imminent physical harm.”

“But we do have clear policies,” Zukerberg said. “And if anyone violates them—whether you are a high-ranking government official like the president or anyone on our platform—we do have to take action if people are doing things like promoting violence or saying things that are going to cause imminent physical harm.

“You know, even, we operate around the world, but the U.S. has the strongest tradition on freedom of expression,” he said. “But even the First Amendment is, the jurisprudence on this is pretty clear that, for example, you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. And the reason for that is that it puts other people in imminent risk of physical harm.

“So, things that would do that, whether that’s saying something that encourages violence or saying something that maybe something is a cure for a disease, I mean, as we’ve seen with COVID. You know, cases like that, things that lead—just basically, different kinds of things like that we will enforce no matter who you are on the platform,” he said.

“But I don’t think that those policies were violated in this case from what I can tell,” Zuckerberg said.

Here is a transcript of the exchange between Dana Perino and Mark Zuckerberg about this issue:

Dana Perino: “Twitter decided for the first time ever to fact-check one of President Trump’s tweets. They decided to do it on a mail-in voting tweet. And I wonder what you thought about that decision because the last time we spoke you had just announced your policy of not weighing in on political speech, and I wondered if you thought that Twitter might have made the wrong decision on this?”

Mark Zuckerberg: “Yeah, that’s right, Dana. We have a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this. You know, I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. I think in general private companies probably shouldn’t be—or, especially these platform companies—shouldn’t be in the position of doing that. And we’ve been pretty clear on our policy that we think that it wouldn’t be right for us to do fact checks for politicians--in that people should be able to hear what politicians say. There’s plenty of scrutiny already about politicians’ speech. That’s what a lot of the media does. So, we think that that handles that quite well.

“And, yeah, I think overall, I think that it’s good for different companies to have different policies on this stuff, but at Facebook we’ve tried to distinguish ourselves as being really strong in favor of giving people a voice and free expression. And I certainly think our policies have distinguished us from some of the other tech companies in terms of being stronger on free expression and giving people a voice than a lot of others out there.”

Perino: “This week, the president has been continuing to tweet about an intern for Joe Scarborough—now at MSNBC, then he was a congressman. She passed away. The coroner’s office said it was because she had a heart condition. The widower has asked Twitter to delete the tweets. But the tweets are then cross-promoted and cross-posted on Facebook. Do you think that that goes to your political speech policy as well, or would that be a different scenario for you?”

Zuckerberg: “Well, let me just be clear about what our rules are. You know, I don’t think it’s appropriate for Facebook to do fact checking. But we do have clear policies. And if anyone violates them—whether you are a high-ranking government official like the president or anyone on our platform—we do have to take action if people are doing things like promoting violence or saying things that are going to cause imminent physical harm.  

“You know, even, we operate around the world, but the U.S. has the strongest tradition on freedom of expression. But even the First Amendment is, the jurisprudence on this is pretty clear that, for example, you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. And the reason for that is that it puts other people in imminent risk of physical harm.

“So, things that would do that, whether that’s saying something that encourages violence or saying something that maybe something is a cure for a disease, I mean, as we’ve seen with COVID. You know, cases like that, things that lead—just basically, different kinds of things like that we will enforce no matter who you are on the platform. But I don’t think that those policies were violated in this case from what I can tell.” 

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