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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg livestreams employee Q&A in rare move

Zuckerberg's internal Q&As with employees were leaked earlier this week.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 
James Martin/CNET

In a rare move, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg livestreamed an internal Q&A with employees to the public on Thursday. 

Zuckerberg webcast the Q&A from his Facebook account just days after The Verge published transcripts and audio clips of him speaking to employees at two town hall meetings in July. In the leaked remarks, Zuckerberg told employees he was ready to "go to the mat" and fight for Facebook if Sen. Elizabeth Warren becomes president and tries to break up the social media giant. 

The Facebook chief addressed the leak in Thursday's event, acknowledging that he might have spoken a little more stridently than he might have in public.

"Maybe I said it in a little bit more unfiltered of a way than I would externally but fundamentally...we believe everything that we said that was in there," he said. 

Asked about how the company would remain impartial given his remarks about the Democratic presidential hopeful, Zuckerberg retorted, "Let's try not to antagonize her further." The remark elicited laughter from the audience. 

In a more serious tone, Zuckerberg noted his remarks were aimed at specific policy proposal, not the upcoming election. "Even when people disagree with what I think...I still want to give them a voice," he told employees. 

As with the leaked transcripts, the content of the livestream was less remarkable than the company's decision to make it public. Zuckerberg said that livestreaming the Q&A was an experiment, quipping that he does such a "bad job" at interviews that "what do we have to lose?" He addressed a host of topics, ranging from encryption to child exploitation, during the roughly hour-long Q&A.

European Court ruling about illegal content

On Thursday, Europe's top court ruled the EU can order Facebook to monitor and pull down illegal content from the platform, even if it's posted by people outside of those borders.

Zuckerberg said he thought the ruling set a "very troubling precedent" because there are a lot of challenges tied to content moderation.

"This is going to be something that I would imagine we and other services will be litigating and basically trying to get to clarity on what this means over a long period of time," he said.


Attorney General William Barr also sent a letter to Zuckerberg on Thursday asking the company to delay plans to encrypt its messaging services because of concerns that it will hamper efforts by law enforcement to find illegal activity on the platform such as child exploitation and election meddling. 

Facebook plans to encrypt and integrate Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram direct messaging so users can send texts and photos to one another without switching services. Zuckerberg said he understands the concerns.

"This is like one of the core tensions that I think we face," he said. "I mean, there are these different equities that that we try to balance."

Suppressing conservative speech

Facebook, like other social networks, have faced accusations that it suppresses conservative content but has repeatedly denied those claims. 

Zuckerberg said that the company tries not to be biased but he understands where those concerns are coming from. People in the tech industry donate more to Democrats than Republicans and have their own policy preferences.

"We want everyone to have a voice but I just think this is a good kind of learning moment to remember that," he said.

Originally published Oct. 3 at 4:38 p.m.
Update, 5:43 p.m.: Includes more comments from Q&A.