Zuckerberg calls on Congress to impose content moderation transparency standards
If tech platforms had to publish transparency standards, "the people who are responsible for holding all of us accountable, whether it's journalists, Congress, academics, could have an apples-to-apples comparison about how all the different companies are doing," said Mark Zuckerberg.
During Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called on Congress to pass regulations that would require tech platforms to issue regular transparency reports, laying out the actions they've taken on violative content.
"Thatway, thepeoplewhoareresponsibleforholdingallofusaccountable,whetherit'sjournalists,Congress,academics,couldhaveanapples-to-applescomparisonabouthowallthedifferentcompaniesaredoing," Zuckerberg said. He also suggested that such a law "require that companies even maintain a certain level of effectiveness."
That level of detail was new for Zuckerberg, who has, in the past, called for Section 230 to be modified to increase transparency, but has stopped short of saying exactly what he believes such transparency should look like. Facebook already releases intermittent transparency reports, showing not only the amount of content it's taking action on, but also what percentage of that content is caught by automatic filters, what percentage of it is appealed and what percentage is restored upon appeal.
Such a scientific dissection of these actions is complex even for a company of Facebook's size. It would be far more challenging for smaller platforms, leading some to argue that Zuckerberg's proposal is, in and of itself, anticompetitive. "This is why he wants to make it a requirement for everyone. The resources it would require from smaller platforms is now a competitive advantage for Facebook," Ifeoma Ozoma, a former Facebook policy staffer, tweeted Tuesday. "Him saying it would provide apples to apples comparisons is wrong. Also, [without] context, removal numbers are useless."
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.