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Facebook CEO Zuckerberg discusses battle with fake news

Mark Zuckerberg, the 32-year-old head of Facebook, describes how he sees issues like fake news and community standards.

Zuck, speaking at last year's F8, Facebook developer's conference.
Claudia Cruz/CNET

You can't please everyone.

That's the message Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put across this week in an interview with Fast Company, as he described his efforts to crack down on fake news and manage the standards the site's community wants.

Zuckerberg said the fake-news problem is similar to how click-bait articles used to proliferate on the social network. Instead of becoming the arbiters of what was or wasn't click-bait, Zuckerberg's team trained a computer to learn from the community.

"No one wants click-bait," he said. "But our algorithms at that time were not specifically trained to be able to detect what click-bait was. The key was to make tools so the community could tell us what was click-bait, and we could factor that into the product."

He admits the click-bait problem isn't completely solved, and one could argue that fake news is a form of click-bait. But it's clear Zuckerberg is taking a similar tack with fake news, asking other companies and users to judge what is and isn't true, so the Facebook team can incorporate those findings into the social network's filters.

The interview was published just a week before Facebook's annual developer conference, F8, which is being held this year in San Jose, California. Last year, Zuckerberg used the event to lay out the company's strategy for the next decade, while also wading into politics with an indirect criticism of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In the interview, Zuckerberg also said he doesn't want to impose Facebook's morals on the world. He gave an example of a Facebook group that encouraged people to draw pictures of the Prophet Mohammed.

"That was illegal in Pakistan," Zuckerberg said, so the social network didn't show the group there. "But we didn't take it down everywhere."

Zuckerberg said the social network's job is to connect people and give them an outlet for free speech but that this can be a messy process.

"I still believe more strongly than ever that giving the most voice to the most people will be this positive force in society," he said. "But the thing is, it's a work in progress."

A Facebook spokeswoman said Zuckerberg had no further comment.

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