Zuckerberg: Facebook Fixes Will Take Years

Embattled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says fixing the site is going to take years, and it is going to take some hard tradeoffs.

That is according to a Facebook post Friday (Sept. 7).

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was in Washington this week testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on issues like privacy, data sharing and election meddling.

Zuckerberg said job one is "rebuilding all of our content enforcement systems to proactively find harmful content rather than wait for people to flag issues," but he said that job will take at least three years. The good news is that the process began in 2017, he said.

That said, Zuckerberg wrote that he expected 2018 will end "on a significantly better trajectory."

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Zuckerberg tried to convey the enormity of the task, "whether that's defending against election interference by nation states, protecting our community from abuse and harm, or making sure people have control of their information and are comfortable with how it's used."

Zuckerberg has taken heat in Washington for alleged anti-conservative bias, for failing to better protect user data from third-party misuse, and the use of Facbook by foreign actors to meddle with U.S. elections, among other criticisms.

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"What I've learned so far is that when you build services that are used by billions of people across countries and cultures, you will see all of the good humanity is capable of, and people will try to abuse those services in every way possible," he said, adding: "It is our responsibility to amplify the good and mitigate the bad."

Zuckerberg said the hard decisions about how to do that "involve difficult tradeoffs between principles we value deeply," decisions that clearly take time and input.

Related: Sen. Markey Calls for Facebook Crackdown

For example, he said, "encryption increases privacy and security for individuals but makes it more difficult to fight misinformation and hate at scale," or "requiring verification for ads and pages makes election interference more difficult, but it also creates roadblocks for dissidents and smaller, less well-funded groups engaging in those debates."

"We're taking this work very seriously -- and I've spent a lot of time talking to outside experts to get their perspective," he said. "I look forward to sharing more of what we've been thinking about soon."

Zuckerberg said he will post a series of updates over the next three months on various what are in effect self-regulatory efforts. Those will come as the Federal Trade Commission over that same time frame is holding months-long hearings on whether it needs to change its enforcement approach in a high-tech age, including potentially regulating edge provider activity.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.