Facebook Backtracks, Will Work With Congress

By on September 23, 2017
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg

Changing course from its previous position, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced Thursday that his company will provide Congress with information about the 3,000-plus ads purchased by a Russian troll farm during the 2016 election. Appearing in a Facebook live event, Zuckerburg attempted to assuage fears that his company’s ad platform is ripe for abuse and offered what was, frankly, a less than contrite explanation.

“We don’t check what people say before they say it and I don’t think society should want us to,” Zuckerberg said of the ad buys. “Freedom means you don’t have to ask for permission first.”

He was also quick to say that his company would not be offering much in terms of public comment about the information its handing over to Congress, nor what it has already shared with the Mueller team’s probe.

“We’re going to be limited in what we can share regarding ongoing law enforcement operations,” Zuckerberg said. He added that the public can “expect law enforcement to publish its findings when their investigations are complete.”

Of course, that could take a good, long while. The Mueller probe doesn’t look like it’s going to be closing up shop anytime soon, and Congress can’t seem to get its investigations off the ground, much less close them.

Zuckerburg did promise more oversight with Facebook’s ad platform. He is proposing a system more akin to the political ad process on television and radio networks, which require certain information to be included.

“We’re going to make political advertising more transparent. When somebody buys political ads on TV or other media, you’re required by law to disclose who paid for them,” he said, asserting that Facebook doesn’t want to be a platform that enables trolls to influence elections.

“I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy,” Zuckerberg said. “That’s not what we stand for.”