Amid data breaches and “fake news” controversies, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently been the subject of legal and media scrutiny. In an interview with Recode, published Wednesday, Zuckerberg discussed issues facing the social network, from data and security to being blocked in China.
In addition to disclosing his opinions on Facebook-related topics, Zuckerberg also expanded the conversation to his personal thoughts on national events, like the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and political debates on subjects like Trump’s border separation policy. Here are five things we took away from Zuckerberg’s interview.
1. Denying that the Sandy Hook shooting happened won’t get someone removed from Facebook
While Zuckerberg agreed that people who claim the Sandy Hook shooting never happened are wrong, their misinformation is not enough to get them kicked off the platform. “As abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly,” Zuckerberg said. “I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, ‘We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong,’ even multiple times.” He also expanded the argument to include Holocaust deniers, using similar logic that argues direct messages to victims of events like shootings or genocides would qualify as harassment — grounds for removal — but floating false statements would not.
2. Facebook data shows Russian intelligence interfered with the 2016 United States election
The coding mogul was not surprised by Robert Mueller’s official report evincing Russian tampering with the 2016 presidential election. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook submitted data to the FBI around the time of the race that revealed Russian hackers’ phishing history in the accounts of members of the Republican and Democratic National Committees. “The evidence that we’ve seen is quite clear, that the Russians did try to interfere with the election,” Zuckerberg said. “They’ve clearly gone much further now, at this point, in terms of putting the whole story together. You could see that in the indictments that Mueller just issued over the last week or so. That’s the part that I actually think we got, and were on top of.”
3. He thinks Donald Trump’s immigration policy separating families is “terrible”
Though Zuckerberg doesn’t like to label himself as conservative or liberal, he did express his opinions on specific political issues like Trump’s controversial immigration policy that separated children from their parents at the U.S. border. “It was terrible,” he said. “Terrible.” He also credited Facebook for contributing to Trump’s eventual reversal of the policy, citing donation funds that circulated on the platform to aid immigrant families. “This thing just went viral,” he said in reference to the fundraising links. “It’s a great example of when you give people a voice what positive things can happen, both substantively in terms of the fundraiser and just the widespread show of support, I think, is also really meaningful. And I think a combination of that and a number of other things like that may have been what led the administration to backtrack on the policy there.”
4. He thinks he’s the one who should be fired for the Cambridge Analytica data breach
A data breach scandal involving consulting firm Cambridge Analytica led many Facebook users to point the finger at Zuckerberg for allowing misuse and sale of their personal information on the platform — and Zuckerberg accepts the blame. “Look, I designed the platform, so if someone’s going to get fired for this, it should be me,” he said before adding, “This, to me, is an example of, you get judged by how you deal with an issue when it comes up. And I think on this one, we’ve done the right things, and many of them I think we’d actually done years ago to prevent this kind of situation from happening again.”
5. He has a tense relationship with China
In response to a question about the danger of monopolistic social media platforms in the U.S., Zuckerberg redirected the conversation to criticize networks in China. “They do not share the values that we have,” he said. “You can bet that if the government hears word that it’s election interference or terrorism, I don’t think Chinese companies are going to wanna cooperate as much and try to aid the national interest there.” He also commented on China’s decision to block Facebook on all devices. “It’s hard to have a mission of wanting to bring the whole world closer together and leave out the biggest country,” he said.