Defiant Zuckerberg Says Facebook Won’t Police Political Speech

Neil Chilson, a senior research fellow at Stand Together, an organization within the Koch Network, said Facebook’s free speech position was “a very reasonable policy choice.” When Mr. Trump speaks, reporters then fact-check what he says, showing “that the cure to a politician’s misstatement is more speech, not to shut it down,” Mr. Chilson said.

Mr. Zuckerberg decided in recent days to publicly speak at Georgetown University as the debate over Facebook’s position on political discourse became louder. On Wednesday, he posted on Facebook that he was writing a speech that was “the most comprehensive take I’ve written about my views, why I believe voice is important.”

He will continue his public offensive on Friday, when he plans to be interviewed by Dana Perino of Fox News. Next week, he will be in Washington for a hearing on the company’s cryptocurrency project, called Libra. It will be his second time testifying in front of Congress after April 2018, when he answered lawmakers’ questions on Facebook’s treatment of user data.

In an interview at Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters on Tuesday, Mr. Zuckerberg laid out more of the reasoning behind his speech. He repeatedly cited Facebook’s role as an American company and how it would be viewed over time.

“Today, the state of the global internet around the world is primarily defined by American companies and platforms with strong free expression values,” he said. “There’s just no guarantee that will win out over time.”

In his speech, he said he had considered banning political ads from Facebook. But he said political advertising could be considered part of speech and that the slope of deciding which issues were political and which were not would be too slippery to navigate. He added that political ads were a negligible amount of Facebook’s $55.8 billion in annual revenue.

Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged in the interview that his position would not satisfy everyone. But he said he wrote the address to lay out his broader views and how he wanted his company to operate long into the future — including the far-off day when he is no longer running Facebook.

“I hope this is a moment for us to put our place in history in perspective,” he said.

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