Zuckerberg has delved into some of the most urgent Facebook issues, including how to manage fake news and support good journalism and how to manage a 2 billion user community. Zuckerberg responds to Tim Cook who criticized the Facebook model of generating revenue through advertising.
Zuckerberg was in a sort of advertising tour after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a generally difficult year for the social media giant, the CEO apologized for the scandal and the platform introduced changes and new privacy rules. OraZuckerberg responds to Tim Cook and to the new criticisms leveled against him.
Zuckerberg responds to Tim Cook
In an interview published in Voxil, CEO of Facebook investigated some of the most urgent issues in the company, including how to manage fake news and support good journalism and how to manage a community of 2 billion users. Zuckerberg also has replied to Tim Cook who criticized the Facebook model of generating revenue through advertising.
Facebook and Fake news
On the problem of fake news and past transparency, we expressed this:
difficult to be transparent when we do not have a full understanding of where the status of some of the systems is. In 2016, we were behind with having a full understanding and operational excellence in preventing things like Russian disinformation and interference. And you can bet that this is a great goal for us as we move forward.
On how Facebook is trying to offer content, including news, that is meaningful to users:
The way this works today, in general, that we have panels of hundreds or thousands of people coming in and to which we show all the content shared by their friends and their pages. We ask them to classify it and, in practice, to say "what were the most significant things you want to be on top of the feed?" Then we try to design algorithms that only map what people are actually telling us they are meaningful to them. Not the one they click on, not what makes us earn more, but what people actually find meaningful and valuable. So when we're making big changes – like in the case of the change in reliability – the reason why we're doing it because it really maps out what people tell us they want at a deep level.
Zuck was also asked to support news organizations, as some of Facebook's revenue streams come from users consuming news on the platform:
For larger institutions, and perhaps even smaller ones, subscriptions are really a key point on this. I think many of these business models are moving towards a higher percentage of subscriptions, where the people who are getting the most value from you are contributing a disproportionate amount of revenue. There are certainly a lot of things we can do on Facebook to help people, to help these news organizations, to increase subscriptions and this was definitely the work we did and will continue to do.
He also stated that the subscriptions may not work for local news, which according to the CEO is equally important:
In local news, I think some of the solutions might be a bit different, but I also think it's easy to lose sight of how important it is. There have been a lot of discussions about civic engagement and I think people can lose sight of how closely related they can be to local news. In a city with a strong local newspaper, people are much more informed, they are much more likely to be civically active. On Facebook we have taken steps to show more local news to people. We are also working with them in particular, creating funds to support them and working on subscriptions and announcements and we should hopefully be able to create a more prosperous ecosystem.
Zuckerberg responds to Tim Cook
In an interview last week, Apple CEO said that technology companies "I am beyond" self-regulation. Asked what he would do if he had been in Zuckerberg's position, Cook said: "I would not be in this situation". The CEO has long declared that an advertising model, in which companies use user data to sell it to businesses, not what Apple wants to become.
"They are devouring everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it", said Cook on Facebook and Google in 2015. "We think it's wrong. Not the kind of company that Apple wants to be."
Zuckerberg was questioned about Cook's statements in the interview. Here's how Zuckerberg responds to Tim Cook:
You know, I find this argument, that if you're not paying for a service it means that we don't take care of you, extremely casual and far from the truth. The reality here is that if you want to create a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are many people who cannot afford to pay and therefore, as with many media, have a model supported by advertising, the only rational model capable of support the construction of this service to reach people.
Zuckerberg also took the opportunity to do a little verse to Cook, saying that we shouldn't believe that companies that try to get us to pay more really care about us.
Facebook a service not only for the rich
But if you want to create a service that is not just for the rich, you must have something that people can afford. I think Jeff Bezos used an excellent way of saying in one of his Kindle launches several years ago. He said: "There are companies that work hard to make you pay more and there are companies that work hard to make you pay less." And on Facebook, we are exactly in the field of companies that work hard to make you pay less and provide a free service that everyone can use.
I don't think this means that we don't care about people. On the contrary, I think it is important not to stumble over some sort of Stockholm Syndrome and let the companies that work hard to make you pay more convince you that they actually care about you. Because it seems ridiculous to me.
The government of Facebook
Zuckerberg had stated in a previous interview that Facebook was more like a government than a traditional company. Zuck explained that disputes over which content is eligible on Facebook have grown to reach a scale that requires a certain level of governance.
But I think it's actually one of the most interesting philosophical questions we face. With a community of over 2 billion people, worldwide, in every different country, where there are very different social and cultural norms, it is not clear to me how we, in an office here in California, can be in the best position to determine what the policies for people around the world should be. I have worked and reflected on how a more democratic and community-oriented process can be created that reflects the values of people around the world.
This is one of the things I really think we need to fix, because I'm not sure the current state is perfect.
On how Facebook could prepare to manage its overwhelming dimension:
One thing is transparency. At the moment, I don't think we're quite transparent about the importance of different platform problems. We have not done a good job of publication and transparency on this type of problems and on the work we are doing and on how we are working to reduce these problems.
Facebook's long-term goals
In the long run, what I would really like to get independent appeal. So maybe the people of Facebook make the first decision based on community standards that are outlined, and then people can get a second opinion. You can imagine a kind of structure, almost like a Supreme Court, composed of independent people who do not work for Facebook, who ultimately make the final judgment on what should be an acceptable discourse in a community that reflects the social norms and values of people all over the world.