Watch highlights from Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress
Before I begin, I wanna add my voice to those honoring congressman John Lewis and his service to our country.
America has lost a real hero who never stopped fighting for the rights of every person.
Chairman SISelena, Ranking Member Sensenbrenner, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify.
The tech industry is an American success story.
The products we build have changed the world and improve people's lives.
Our industry is one of the ways that America shares its values with the world and one of our greatest economic and cultural exports.
Facebook is part of this story.
We started with an idea To give people the power to share and connect, and we've built services that billions of people find useful.
I'm proud that we've given people who've never had a voice before the opportunity to be heard.
Since COVID emerged, I'm proud that people have used our services to stay in touch with friends and family, they can't be with in person.
To keep their small businesses running online when physical stores are closed.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Zuckerberg in March of 2012, you suggested by email to your management team, that moving faster and copying other apps could quote prevent our competitors from getting footholds.
Sheryl Sandberg responded that quote, It is better to do more and move faster, especially if that means you don't have competitors build products that takes some of our users.
Facebook's Product Manager, Management Director added that quote, I would love to be far more aggressive and nimble in copying competitors.
Has Facebook ever taking steps to prevent competitors from getting foot holes by copying competitors?
Congresswoman, I view it as our job to understand what people are planning valuable in all of the services that they use.
And certainly if someone
Do you copy your competitors?
Congresswoman we've certainly adapted features that others have led him as have others copied and adapted features that.>> I'm not concerned about others.
I'm just asking you Mr. Zuckerberg since March of 2012 after that email conversation how many competitors did Facebook end up copying.
Congresswoman, I can't give you a number of companies.
Is it less than five?
Congresswoman, I don't know.
Less than 50?
Your team was making a plan.
How did it play out?
Congresswoman i'm not sure i agree with the premise here.
Our job is to make sure that we build the best services for people to connect with all the people they care about.
And a lot of that is done.
By innovating and by building new things, internally, thank you Mr. Zuckerberg.
Let me go on.
Has Facebook ever threatened to clone the products of another company while also attempting to acquire that company?
Congresswoman Not that I would not that I recall, and I'd like to just remind you that you are under oath and there are quotes from Facebook's own documents.
Prior to acquiring Instagram, Facebook began developing a similar product called Facebook camera correct?
Congresswoman, that's correct.
I've I've said multiple times that we were competing in the space of building mobile cameras with Instagram.
That's what they did at the time.
Their competitive set was companies like what we were building with Facebook camera and Cisco cam and please.
Thank you Mr. Zuckerberg.
Did you ever use this very similar Facebook camera product to threaten Instagrams founder Kevin Systrom Congressman, I'm not sure what you would mean by threatened.
I think it was public that we were building a camera app at the time.
That was a well documented thing.
Let me tell you that Mr. In a chat you told Mr. Sidestream that Facebook was, quote, developing our own photos strategy.
So how we engage now will also determine how much we're partners versus competitors.
Down the line Instagrams founder seemed to think that was a threat he confided, confided in an investor at the time that he feared you would go he would that you would go into quote, destroy mode if he didn't say.
Sell Instagram to you.
So let's just recap Facebook, cloned a popular product approached the company you identified as a competitive threat and told them that if they didn't let you buy them up, there would be consequences.
Were there any other companies that you use the same tactic with while attempting to buy them.
Congresswoman I want to respectfully disagree with the characterisation.
I think it was clear that this was a space that we were going to compete in one way or another.
I don't view those conversations as a threat in any way.
I was trying to figure out
I'm just using the documents and the testimony that the committee has collected from others Did you warn Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, that Facebook was in the process of cloning the features of his company, while also attempting to buy Snapchat?
Congresswoman, I don't remember those specific conversations but that was also an area where it was very clear that we were going to be building something.
If people want to be able to communicate privately, they want to be able to communicate with all their friends at once.
And we're going to make sure that we build the best products and all of the spaces that we can around helping people stay connected with the people they care about.
I appreciate that Mr. Zuckerberg.
I think the question again, here is When the dominant platform threatens as potential rivals, that should not be a normal business practice.
Facebook is a case study, in my opinion in monopoly power because your company harvests and monetizes our data, and then your company uses that data to spy on competitors and to copy acquire and kill rivals.
You've used Facebook's power to threaten smaller competitors, and to ensure that you always get your way these tactics reinforce Facebook's dominance, which you then use in increasingly destructive ways.
So Facebook's Very model makes it impossible for new companies to flourish separately.
And that harms our democracy.
It has harms mom and pop businesses and it harms consumers.
Chairman, I yield back.
It was reported that Donald Trump Jr got taken down for a period of time.
Because he puts something up on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine.
Now, I wouldn't take it myself.
But there still is a debate as to whether it is effective either in treating or preventing COVID-19.
And I think that this is a legitimate matter of discussion.
And it would be up to a patient and their doctor to determine whether hydroxychloroquine was the correct medication.
Given the circumstances, why does that happen?
Well, first to be clear, I think what you might be referring to happened on on Twitter, so it's hard for me to speak to that, but I can talk to our policies about us.
We do prohibit content that will lead to imminent risk of harm and stating that there's a proven cure for Covid.
When there is in fact none might encourage them to go take something that could have some adverse effects.
So we do take that down.
We do not prohibit discussion.
Around trials of drugs, or people saying that they they think that things might work or personal experiences with experimental drugs.
But if someone is going to say that that's something is proven, when in fact it is not that that could lead people wouldn't get the somebody on the other side of the issue.
Say that this is not proven.
And I know is a fact that for people with certain conditions is country indicated and they shouldn't take it back but wouldn't that be up to somebody else.To say, okay, what somebody posted that this really isn't true and here's what the facts are Rather than having a Twitter or a Facebook, take it down.
Congressman in general, I agree with you and we do not want to become the arbiters of truth.
I think that that would be a bad position for us to be in and not not what we should be doing.
But unspecific claims.
If someone is gonna go out and say that the hydroxychloroquine is proven to cure COVID when in fact, it has not been proven to cure COVID and that statement could lead people to take a drug that in some cases, some of the data suggests that it might be harmful to people We think that we should take that down, that could cause imminent risk of harm.
The problem is Facebook is profiting off an amplifying disinformation that harms others because it's pri Profitable.
This isn't a speech issue its about Facebook's business model that prioritizes engagement in order to keep people on Facebook platform to savour more advertisement.
So I'll ask you very specifically what are you doing right now to protect people from demonstrably false claim related to this deadly pandemic?
Congressman, I'll certainly answer that but I have to disagree with the assertion that you're making that this content is somehow helpful for our business.
It is not what people want to see.
And we rank our what we show in feed based on what is going to be the most meaningful to people and is going to create long term satisfaction.
Not what's just gonna get engagement or clicks today.
If that's true, Mr. Zuckerberg, how do you explain that?
On Monday the second most popular posts on Facebook was a Breitbart video, claiming that you don't need a mask and hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID and in the first five hours after being posted on Facebook It racked up 20 million views and over 100,000 comments before Facebook acted to remove it.
Will cover spent a lot of people shared that and we did take it down because it violates our policies.
We work with the CDC to figure out ->> After 20 million people saw it over the period of five hours.
I mean, doesn't that suggest Mr Zuckerberg That your platform is so big that even with the right policies in place, you can't contain deadly content.
Congressman, I don't think so.
I think we have on COVID misinformation in particular A relatively good track record of fighting and taking down lots of false content, as well as putting up authoritative information.
We have built a Covid information center-
I understand that.
With authoritative information from health officials.
And we put->> Thank you, Mr.
[CROSSTALK] One more question.
I appreciate that.
Mr. Zuckerberg, if a television station runs a false political Advertisement, they're held liable for that.
Why should Facebook or any other platform be different?
While you may not be a publisher, you're responsible, maybe not for the first posting, but you then take that posting and you apply a set of algorithms that decide how you will disseminate that which is a business decision.
Not a First Amendment decision, and it's hard to understand why Facebook shouldn't be responsible for those business decisions.>>Congressman, in terms of political ads, we've modeled a lot of our policies off of the FCC guidelines on broadcasters and their requirements to run political ads.
Equally from all different sides.
Well, I think this force of more.
Yeah, I think these examples unfortunate Mr. Zuckerberg, just the tip of the iceberg, it's not just about COVID Facebook hosts or enables countless pages and ads that are dedicated to conspiracy theories and calls to violence, including content that led to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
And Facebook gets away with it.
Because you're the only game in town.
There's no competition.
Forcing you to police your own platform allowing this misinformation to spread can lead to violence.
And frankly, I believe it strikes at the very heart of American democracy.
Since 2016, there have been a lot of steps that we've taken to protect the integrity of elections.
We've hired I think it's more than 30,000 people to work on safety and security, We've built up AI systems to be able to find harmful content, including being able to find more than 50 different networks of coordinated inauthentic behavior.
Basically nation states trying to interfere in elections.
Who would love this?
Let me just pause you there for a second because I'm interested in that.
The stop hate for profit campaign is a coalition that includes the Color of Change the anti defamation league and other civil rights groups.
And they're targeting Facebook right now, for a boycott because of the rapid spread of hate messages online.
The presence of Boogaloo and other right wing extremist groups trying to infiltrate and disrupt Black Lives Matter protests.
The fact that outright racist and anti semitic content flourishes on Facebook.
So they're asking you to remove these pages and essentially to join the movement for civil rights by not allowing that kind of content there.
Their boycotters include a lot of big companies including Patagonia, Levi's, McDonald's, VW, Heineken and so on.
But you seem not to be that moved by their campaign and I just wonder what you think about what they're asking you to do
We're very focused on fighting against election interference.
And we're also very focused on fighting against hate speech and our commitments to those issues and fighting them go back years before this recent movement.
Since 2016, the defense's that the company has built up to help secure elections, not just in the US but around the world, I think are some of the most advanced that any company or government has in the world now we routinely now collaborate with law enforcement and intelligence agencies and are able to sometimes identify threats coming from other countries before governments are even able to In terms of fighting hate, we've built really sophisticated systems.
Our goal is to identify it before anyone even sees it on the platform, and we build AI systems.
And as I mentioned, have 10s of thousands of people working on safety and security with the goal of getting this stuff down.
So that way before people even see it, and right now we're able to proactively identify 89% of the hate speech that we take down before I think it's even even seen by other people.
So I want to do better than 89%.
I'd like to get that to 99%.
But we have a massive investment here.
We invest in billions of dollars, just my time almost down.
Can you just address the proliferation of fake accounts I understand.
Annually you get 6.5 billion fake accounts.
Produce there, but in some sense you have a profit motive that's linked to that, because that's what's reported to your investors the number of accounts, are you working zealously to try to ferret out these fake accounts that are used to spread hate and disinformation.
The gentleman's time has expired.
The witness may answer the question.
Congressman, absolutely we work hard on this.
We tick down billions of fake accounts a year.
A lot of that is just people trying to set up accounts to spam people for commercial reasons, a very small percent of that our nation states trying to interfere in elections, but we're very Focused on trying to find those.
Having fake and harmful content on our platform does not help our business.
It hurts our business people do not want to see that stuff.
And and they use our services less when they do.
So we are aligned with people in order to take that down and we invest billions of dollars a year and doing so.
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