Facebook will continue to offer a platform for Holocaust deniers, Infowars and other scam editors on the assumption that they are sincere in their beliefs, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Speaking to Recode & # 39; s Kara Swisher on his podcast, Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, said that the Holocaust deniers are "deeply offensive." "But in the end, I do not think our platform should take that because I think there are things that different people are wrong about," Zuckerberg continued. "I do not think they are intentionally wrong."
Swisher said that, in fact, the Holocaust deniers were probably intentionally deceiving people. Zuckerberg said that Facebook could not understand the intent of those editors and would not try:
It is difficult to challenge the intent and understand the intent. I just think, however disgusting some of those examples are, I think the reality is that I'm wrong when I speak in public. I'm sure if. I am sure that many leaders and public figures that we respect also do, and I just do not think it's the right thing to say: "We're going to take someone off the platform if they're wrong, even several times."
What we'll do is We'll say: "Okay, you have your page, and if you're not trying to organize the damage against someone or attack someone, then you can put that content on your page, even if people may disagree or consider it offensive." But that does not mean that we have the responsibility to distribute it widely in News Feed.
This is not a new position. Facebook has been defending the rights of Holocaust deniers since at least 2009 when it faced criticism for harboring a variety of anti-Semitic sites. At that time, a spokesman said: "We want [Facebook] to be a place where people can discuss all kinds of ideas, including controversies."
Zuckerberg's comments on the podcast came a day after a hearing in which the head of the policy administration was called before Congress to explain its content-moderation policies. While the audience originally intended to investigate the false idea that technology platforms systematically suppress conservative views, it ended with a bipartisan group of lawmakers pressuring Facebook to ban more accounts, including Infowars.
Last week, CNN's Oliver Darcy questioned how Facebook could be candid in its stated efforts to reduce the spread of fake news, while also offering sites like Infowars a place to develop a large following and distribute routinely frauds
Zuckerberg said that one of the basic principles of Facebook is "giving people a voice", and preferred to limit the distribution of deception instead of prohibiting it directly.
Actually, there are two basic principles at play here. There is a voice in people so that people can express their opinions. Then, we keep the community safe, which I think is really important. We are not going to allow people to plan violence or attack each other or do bad things. Within this, those principles have real tradeoffs and a real pull from each other. In this case, we believe that our responsibility is to avoid that the deceptions become viral and are widely distributed.
The approach we have taken to false news does not mean that you can not say something wrong on the Internet. I think that would be too extreme. Everyone is wrong, and if we get rid of people's accounts when they have some bad things, then it would be a difficult world to give people a voice and tell them that that matters to them. But at the same time, I think we have the responsibility of, when we look at … if we look at the one hundred best things that are becoming viral or on Facebook distribution within a given day, I think we have the responsibility of make sure those are not cheating and flagrant disinformation.
Infowars, which has almost 1 million followers on Facebook, routinely denies the reality of mass shootings and promotes the idea that the FBI and other institutions are planning to overthrow President Donald Trump. In 2016, Mother Jones found seven cases in which Infowars fans committed acts of violence.
Update, 4:43 pm: Zuckerberg sought to clarify his comments with an email to Swisher later in the day:
I enjoyed our conversation yesterday, but there is one thing I want to clarify. Personally, I consider that the denial of the Holocaust is deeply offensive, and I did not intend to defend the intention of the people who deny it.
Our goal with false news is not to prevent someone from saying something false, but to stop false news and disinformation spreading through our services. If something spreads and the fact inspectors label it as false, it would lose the vast majority of its distribution in News Feed. And, of course, if a publication crosses the line to advocate violence or hatred against a particular group, it would be eliminated. These problems are very challenging, but I think that often the best way to fight against bad offensive speech is with a good speech.