Zuckerberg: I Am ‘Fundamentally Uncomfortable’ Deciding If Content Is Hate Speech Or Not

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he’s not too keen on the prospect of personally deciding what content is acceptable to be seen and engaged with on the social media platform.

“I feel fundamentally uncomfortable sitting here in California at an office, making content policy decisions for people around the world,” Zuckerberg told Recode’s Kara Swisher. “So, there are going to be things that we never allow, right like terrorist recruitment … But things like where is the line on hate speech? I mean, who chose me to be the person that [makes those distinctions],” he continued, adding “I have to … but I’d rather not.”

Swisher contested such statements from the leader of a massive tech company, arguing that the platform isn’t inherently neutral, and so the company should step in and form determinations. She asked why he’s uncomfortable doing that?

“Well, I just want to make the decisions as well as possible, and I think that there is likely a better process, which I haven’t figured out yet,” Zuckerberg continued, expressing reluctance to step in as an assertive mediator — although some could argue that Facebook is at least sometimes heavy-handed with refereeing content. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Libertarian Org Ready To Sue Facebook-Owned Instagram For Allegedly Removing Its Account)

Facebook, and other tech platforms like Google, have both human workers who have oversight over certain content, and algorithms that are designed to automatically identify and weed out what the creators deem inappropriate subject matter. One arbitration mechanism or the other has led to admitted mistakes, including when a cancer awareness group’s video was censored for including breasts. Facebook also, for example, purposefully removed a small town sports shop’s social media page — which it used to advertise products and promotions — because it also happened to sell guns. (RELATED: Woman Protests Over Facebook Banning Her Viral Video Of Mothers Giving Birth)

Google also had its own problems when it came to its proprietary algorithms and subsequent misapplication of that technology.

Zuckerberg seems reticent to apply company standards throughout the larger Facebook community because, with more than 2 billion active users per month, there are several sets of unique subcommunities using the platform.

“I just wish that there were a way … a process where we could more accurately reflect the values of the community in different places. And then in the community standards, have that be more dynamic in different places,” said Zuckerberg, according to Recode. “But I haven’t figured it out yet. So, I’m just giving this as an example of attention that we debate internally, but clearly until we come up with a reasonable way to do that, that is our job, and I do well in that.”

Like Swisher, many appear to be very upset with Facebook, especially its leader and founder Mark Zuckerberg, for trying to maintain whatever public perception of a free expression ethos it has left rather than doing more to ensure that it isn’t used for manipulative or nefarious purposes.

The entrepreneurial wunderkind publicly responded to the onslaught of criticism Wednesday night in a social media post, balancing ostensible remorse with apparent reasons for why he thinks worries are likely overblown. Zuckerberg has before sounded apologetic and determined, while also politely defensive.

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