Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been forced to deal with harsh criticism about his company ever since the Cambridge Analytica fiasco came to light. Public dissent only got stronger when proof that Facebook had collected call and message history surfaced. Other tech CEOs didn’t offer support either – Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk deleted his two major companies’ pages on a whim while former WhatsApp founder encouraged his followers to #deletefacebook.
Recently, Apple’s Tim Cook joined the list of tech leaders to criticize Facebook. The Apple CEO haughtily declared he would never be in Zuckerberg’s position. While it took a couple days to get a response, Zuckerberg’s rebuttal to Cook’s statement arrived via Ezra Klein’s podcast. In the interview, Zuckerberg clears the air about the series of controversies and speaks about Facebook’s new strategy, but takes some time to address Cook’s statements as well.
Taking a quote from Apple CEO Jeff Bezos, Zuckerberg said, “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less. And at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use. I don’t think at all that that means that we don’t care about people. To the contrary, I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm Syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.”
That was an elegant repartee from Zuckerberg. The Facebook CEO didn’t dwell on the subject though, preferring to talk more about the process they’re going through when deciding what content to serve:
“The way that this works today, broadly, is we have panels of hundreds or thousands of people who come in and we show them all the content that their friends and pages who they follow have shared. And we ask them to rank it, and basically say, ‘What were the most meaningful things that you wish were at the top of feed?’ And then we try to design algorithms that just map to what people are actually telling us is meaningful to them. Not what they click on, not what is going to make us the most revenue, but what people actually find meaningful and valuable.”
Zuckerberg also addressed the potential regulations on Facebook to ensure content is ethical and correct:
“Over the long-term, what I’d really like to get to is an independent appeal. So maybe folks at Facebook make the first decision based on the community standards that are outlined, and then people can get a second opinion. You can imagine some sort of structure, almost like a Supreme Court, that is made up of independent folks who don’t work for Facebook, who ultimately make the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech”, explained Zuckerberg.
We’re curious to see how much of these ideas will actually be put in motion and when they will be released to the public. You know what they say though: what looks good on paper doesn’t always work.