Facebook's Zuckerberg muses on Net neutrality, defends Internet.org

In his latest public question-and-answer session, the social networking giant's CEO discusses public policy, Internet expansion and other topics.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
4 min read

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, answering questions from Facebook users. Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg continues to support Net neutrality.

That was one of the key messages that came from a question and answer session the Facebook cofounder and CEO held on his company's website Tuesday. Zuckerberg said the principle of Net neutrality, which requires that all Internet traffic be treated equally no matter where it's headed or where it comes from, makes sure Internet service providers like Verizon and AT&T don't "discriminate and limit access to services people want to use."

The topic has been the subject of heated debate and lawsuits since the Federal Communications Commission in February effectively adopted those rules in the US. Internet service providers and telecommunications industry groups have fought the new rules, arguing the FCC is being heavy-handed, that it's relying on outdated laws and its actions could stifle innovation.

"The FCC went far beyond the public's call for sound Net neutrality rules," Michael Powell, the head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and a former chairman of the FCC, said in a statement Monday. "Instead, it took the opportunity to engineer for itself a central role in regulating and directing the evolution of the Internet."

Zuckerberg said that in countries where many people are not connected to the Internet, "having some connectivity and some ability to share is always much better than having no ability to connect and share at all." That, he said, is why he's pressed initiatives like Internet.org, which he believes can co-exist with Net neutrality regulations.

The Q&A session, which was held on Zuckerberg's Facebook profile page, is just the latest public appearance by the social-networking site's billionaire cofounder, who devotes time about once a month for public appearances. To that end, he has held public question-and-answer sessions in the US, Colombia and Spain since November.

Though he typically repeats many of his opinions about freedom of speech, the importance of Internet access for the poor and some of his other favorite political issues, he has also given some insight into the way he works and what he sometimes thinks about.

Last year, he expanded on earlier comments he'd made about the Hollywood portrayal of Facebook's founding in Aaron Sorkin's "The Social Network." In the past, he'd said the one thing the movie got right was his clothing, a joke undercutting the film's veracity. ""="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="7c6eb8cf-20f3-4fba-8dda-6b8e57bb07ce" slug="zuckerberg-on-clothing-messaging-apps-and-the-2010-movie-he-found-hurtful" link-text=" But talking in a live broadcast in November, he said the movie had been " section="news" title="Zuckerberg muses on clothing, messaging apps and 'hurtful' movie portrayal" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"7c6eb8cf-20f3-4fba-8dda-6b8e57bb07ce","slug":"zuckerberg-on-clothing-messaging-apps-and-the-2010-movie-he-found-hurtful","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"culture"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Culture","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> He also said he likes fried chicken on his pizza.

As to the way Facebook works, he's often defended following strict public speech laws in various countries by saying it's better than the alternative, being blocked. He's also discussed protecting freedoms of expression, despite terrorism and other issues.

Within minutes of announcing his question-and-answer session, Zuckerberg's profile was inundated with hundreds of questions and comments, ranging from germane, such as how to keep a friend's list relevant, to the ridiculous, "If you could be any biscuit, what biscuit would you be?" (He didn't answer.)

One user asked whether Facebook hinders face-to-face communication. Zuckerberg argued it did not. "Tools like Facebook help people communicate mostly with people who aren't directly around them," he wrote.

Singer and entertainer Shakira, whose music Zuckerberg has said he enjoys, asked how technology can be used as an educational tool for disadvantaged communities. "I'm very excited about personalized learning -- giving everyone the ability to use technology to learn what they're most interested in and at their own pace," he wrote. He added that he's supporting one school experimenting with this technology through his personal philanthropy.

Another user asked about Zuckerberg's vision for Oculus VR, a virtual reality goggles maker Facebook bought last year for $2 billion. Zuckerberg responded, "Our mission is to give people the power to experience anything." Oculus, he said, serves as a potentially powerful communication tool, which will allow people to interact with people and experience things that can't in the real world.

He also said photos and videos will likely change as a result of virtual reality technology. "Just like we capture photos and videos today and then share them on the Internet to let others experience them too, we'll be able to capture whole 3D scenes and create new environments and then share those with people as well," he said. "It will be pretty wild."

Zuckerberg also often fields requests for new features in these talks, and this was no exception. One user asked him to add a sarcasm button, much like the "Like" button Facebook is well known for. "Sure, we'll get right on that," Zuckerberg wrote, adding a smiley-face icon.