Zuckerberg: US government inaction allowed fake news to spread

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the annual F8 summit at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. (AFP)
Updated 27 June 2019

Zuckerberg: US government inaction allowed fake news to spread

  • The CEO also called on governments to further regulate private data, political advertising and step up efforts to prevent state actors from interfering in US elections
  • Zuckerberg also said the leading social network is struggling to find ways to deal with “deepfake” videos

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday that a lack of action by US authorities on fake political content on the platform after the 2016 US election helped pave the way for a subsequent avalanche of online disinformation.
The CEO — who has himself been widely criticized for a lackluster response to fake news — also called on governments to further regulate private data, political advertising and step up efforts to prevent state actors from interfering in US elections.
“As a private company we don’t have the tools to make the Russian government stop... our government is the one that has the tools to apply pressure to Russia,” he said during an on-stage interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado.
“After 2016 when the government didn’t take any kind of counter action, the signal that was sent to the world was that ‘ok we’re open for business’, countries can try to do this stuff... fundamentally there isn’t going to be a major recourse from the American government.”
Zuckerberg also said the leading social network is struggling to find ways to deal with “deepfake” videos which have the potential to deceive and manipulate users on a massive scale.
The comments come amid growing concern over deepfakes — which are altered by using artificial intelligence to appear genuine — being used to manipulate elections or potentially spark unrest.
Earlier this month, Facebook’s Instagram network decided not to take down a fake video of Zuckerberg himself, saying the CEO would not get special treatment.
Online platforms have been walking a fine line, working to root out misinformation and manipulation efforts while keeping open to free speech.
Zuckerberg said this is a constant challenge, repeating his position that Facebook should not be an arbiter of truth on the Internet.
“I do not think we want to go so far toward saying that a private company prevents you from saying something that it thinks is factually incorrect to another person,” he said.


Malaysian police chief insists Al Jazeera probe ‘professional’

Updated 05 August 2020

Malaysian police chief insists Al Jazeera probe ‘professional’

  • The government said the documentary tarnished the image of the country
  • Abdul Hamid said the investigation “will be very transparent”

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s police chief insisted Wednesday investigations into an Al Jazeera documentary are being conducted “professionally” and rejected concerns about worsening media freedom, a day after the broadcaster’s office was searched.
Authorities are investigating the news network’s program “Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown,” after the government was angered by its critical look at the treatment of migrant workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials on Tuesday searched the Qatar-based broadcaster’s Kuala Lumpur office and seized two computers, sparking fresh anger from Al Jazeera and rights groups and adding to concerns about media independence in Malaysia.
But the country’s Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said the search by police and communications ministry officials was carried out “very professionally.”
“It was not a military kind of action taken by the police,” he told AFP in an interview.
He added that Al Jazeera staff were “informed earlier of our intent to be there. They were even asked which devices were used. They cooperated.”
The search came after seven Al Jazeera journalists were questioned by police last month in connection with the documentary.
Abdul Hamid said the probe would be wrapped up soon, after which the attorney-general will decide whether to bring charges.
But the government insists the documentary — which focused on alleged mistreatment of migrants when they were rounded up during a coronavirus lockdown in May — tarnished the country’s image.
Authorities say the round-up was necessary to protect the public from the virus.
Al Jazeera is being probed for alleged sedition, defamation and transmitting offensive content, but it has stood by the documentary and insists the reporting was impartial.
Abdul Hamid said the investigation “will be very transparent” and insisted journalists in Malaysia were still free to do their jobs.
But he also urged international media to “be responsible,” calling them not to “write something... that is inaccurate.”