In an interesting turn of events, Mark Zuckerberg took to the Washington Post to outline the areas where he believes that regulation could be helpful. I will get into that in a moment, but first I want to explore this concept. Over the last two years, Facebook has been embroiled in a world of controversy including controversies over user privacy and data breaches, to the amplification of extremist content, and even genocide lately. So why the complete 180 degree turn from saying regulation is bad to now thinking regulation might not be a bad idea? The areas that Zuckerberg mentions in the Washington Post op-ed article are harmful content, election integrity, privacy, and data portability. And he even offered information as to what that could look like.

Before going through those, I have a theory as to why Zuckerberg is doing this. Facebook, as we all know, is no longer viewed as a company with integrity. Which means, it would be of benefit for Big Brother to come in and tell them exactly what they have to do. In doing that, they can now place the blame on someone else, in a “the government made me do it”, type of way. Because, if you think about it, Facebook could just implement their own ideas and say that they’re “regulating” themselves, couldn’t they? Why go through all the trouble of telling the world that they need to be regulated? Sounds like a child who got caught doing something they weren’t supposed to do, and now they’re asking their parents to punish them.

Harmful Content

Zuckerberg believes that platforms face a “responsibility to keep people safe on our services,” and that “internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content.” In order to do this effectively, according to Facebook, they need to be able to identify and eliminate violent or hate speech, but they are also calling for “a more standardized approach” throughout the industry that includes third-party oversight.

One idea is for third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and to measure companies against those standards. Regulation could set baselines for what’s prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum.

Mark Zuckerberg

Election Integrity

Zuckerberg believes that the company has already made steps in this particular area including forcing political ad buyers to verify their real life identities and creating a political ad database. They are also suggesting a total overhaul of the campaign finance environment, which isn’ t something that Facebook would have control over.

… Deciding whether an ad is political isn’t always straightforward. Our systems would be more effective if regulation created common standards for verifying political actors.

Online political advertising laws primarily focus on candidates and elections, rather than divisive political issues where we’ve seen more attempted interference. Some laws only apply during elections, although information campaigns are nonstop. And there are also important questions about how political campaigns use data and targeting. We believe legislation should be updated to reflect the reality of the threats and set standards for the whole industry.

Mark Zuckerberg


Zuckerberg feels that the United States government needs to pass legislation similar to what we’ve recently seen in the European Union with the General Data Protection Regulation. According to Zuckerberg this could become a “common global framework”, rather than laws that only apply to certain countries.

If you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. This gives people choice and enables developers to innovate and compete.

This is important for the Internet — and for creating services people want. It’s why we built our development platform. True data portability should look more like the way people use our platform to sign into an app than the existing ways you can download an archive of your information. But this requires clear rules about who’s responsible for protecting information when it moves between services.

Mark Zuckerberg

The one area that Zuckerberg didn’t get into is the recent criticism that these tech giants should be broken up. While it’s great to go on record and admit your faults, these are things that Facebook can fix within themselves. That’s like someone saying that they have a drinking problem, but then saying that their doctor needs to tell them to stop. Or their spouse. Facebook might not be able to put GDPR rules in place for the entire planet, but they could hold themselves accountable and implement those on their own. This is a big departure from where we were a year ago, but I think Facebook still has a long way to go – especially when it comes to walking the walk.