Briefing

Zuckerberg says China’s tech growth threatens free speech worldwide

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In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg contrasted activists’ use of its subsidiary WhatsApp with China-based ByteDance’s TikTok, which he said is censoring news about protests, including in the U.S. “Until recently, the internet in almost every country outside of China has been defined by American platforms with strong free-expression values,” he said, saying that six of the 10 largest internet firms today are Chinese. He also said Facebook and its subsidiary platforms do not operate in China in large part because of the government’s speech policies. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Zuckerberg has called for a “more standardized approach” to the removal of harmful content that would apply across countries and platforms. Thursday’s speech combined all the responses Zuckerberg and Facebook have recently given to criticism of its moderation practices: calling for regulation based on existing rules like the U.S.’s free speech practices or the European data protection regime; arguing that decisions on what content should be taken down are very complicated; and contrasting its behaviours with those of other platforms. It also comes amid partisan battles in the U.S. over Facebook’s role in moderating political speech. Zuckerberg has recently hosted a series of private dinners with conservative commentators and policymakers to discuss their claims of bias. He has also defended a policy allowing political ads from President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign containing falsehoods.