Zuckerberg urges the West to counter China’s ‘dangerous’ approach to internet regulation

mark zuckerberg

  • The Facebook CEO said he worried about other countries looking to replicate the Chinese model, which he labeled “really dangerous.”
  • It’s not first time Zuckerberg has warned about China. He’s previously called out Chinese-owned video platform TikTok over censorship.
  • Zuckerberg said the best antidote was for Western countries to come up with a “clear framework” that can set the standard “around the world.”

Mark Zuckerberg has again sounded the alarm on China’s approach to regulating internet services.

The Facebook CEO on Monday said he was worried about other countries that are looking to replicate the Chinese model, which he labeled “really dangerous.”

“What I worry about is, right now I think there are emerging two very different frameworks underpinned by very different sets of values,” Zuckerberg said in a livestreamed discussion with EU official Thierry Breton.

“Just to be blunt about it, I think there is a model coming out of countries like China that tend to have very different values than Western countries that are more democratic,” Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg said Western countries should counter China’s approach with a democratic alternative. He praised Brussels’ 2018 overhaul of privacy laws, claiming the reforms have prompted Facebook to change its approach to data privacy around the world.

The “best antidote” to China’s approach “is having a clear framework that comes out of Western democratic countries and that can become a standard around the world,” Zuckerberg said.

It’s not first time the billionaire Facebook co-founder has warned about China. He’s previously called out Chinese-owned video platform TikTok over censorship, claiming the app had censored mentions of the protests that erupted in Hong Kong last year

“I worry about that kind of model spreading to other countries,” Zuckerberg said of China’s stance Monday. “And I think that the best antidote to that is having a clear framework that comes out of Western democratic countries and that can become a standard around the world.”

Zuckerberg and Breton discussed everything from how social platforms are tackling misinformation to governance in a one-hour debate Monday. Facebook’s CEO said he felt cooperation between tech companies and governments was “inevitable.”

“I think there are big questions around balancing things like free expression and safety,” he said. But, he added: “I don’t think that there’s a question that there’s going to be regulation. I think the question is, whose framework is going to win around the world?”

Facebook recently unveiled the first 20 members of its Oversight Board, an independent body that can overturn the company’s own content moderation decisions, even if Zuckerberg himself disagrees.

The company has also started labeling coronavirus-related misinformation with warnings that such content is false. Zuckerberg said that in 95% of cases where users see such labeled content, they don’t end up clicking on it.

At the end of the day, it will be Mark who will be responsible. Nobody else.
Thierry Breton
EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR INTERNAL MARKET

But Breton made clear to Zuckerberg that the EU could pile more regulation on the tech giant with respect to things like market power.

“It’s not us who should adapt ourselves to you but vice versa,” the European commissioner for internal market said. “This is the way it is. We are a democracy.”

Before the pandemic hit, the EU had made tech regulation a key priority, drawing up plans to regulate artificial intelligence and help European companies exploit their industrial data.

“The mission of a CEO is to be able to listen to everyone and then to take your decision,” said Breton, the former chief of France Telecom — now Orange — and Atos. “But at the end of the day, it will be Mark who will be responsible. Nobody else.”

Pin It on Pinterest