Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday defended the social media firm’s light regulation of speech and lack of fact-checking on political promotions while citing China’s censorship as a roadblock to operating in the nation.
Facebook has been under fire in recent times for its lax approach to fake information reports, state-backed disinformation campaigns, and violent content spread on its services, prompting calls for new laws around the world.
In a speech at Georgetown University stuffed with references to the First Amendment and the fight for democracy, Zuckerberg stood his ground, saying social media had launched transformative roads for speech that shouldn’t be shut down.
Zuckerberg framed the company’s decisions around that idea, including its latest retreat from years of the aggressive courtship of China, an obstacle to his outlook of connecting the global population.
He attacked the rapidly rising Chinese-owned app TikTok, saying the short video service banned political protest, including in the United States, a charge the corporate denies.
In leaked audio of an address to Facebook staff weeks earlier, Zuckerberg spoke about TikTok as a grand competitor, calling it the first consumer web product built by a Chinese tech titan to seek global success, however, it didn’t mention its approach to speech.
Throughout Facebook’s charm offensive, Zuckerberg met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, learned Mandarin, and posted a photograph of himself walking through Tiananmen Square.
Facebook briefly won a license to open an “innovation center” in Hangzhou, in 2018, however, it was later dismissed.