Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believes in the idea of healthy competition and making sure “the playing field is level for all,” in a prepared statement he plans to give before federal lawmakers on Wednesday.
“Our story would not have been possible without U.S. laws that encourage competition and innovation,” he said in a statement obtained by Fox News from someone close to the hearing process. “I believe that strong and consistent competition policy is vital because it ensures that the playing field is level for all. At Facebook, we compete hard, because we’re up against other smart and innovative companies that are determined to win.”
A House antitrust subcommittee was set to grill Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Zuckerberg on Monday, but the hearing was delayed due to a memorial service for the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.
Zuckerberg admitted that the size of the tech industry should create cause for concern and said companies such as his should not be singlehandedly making major decisions about national policy.
“I understand that people have concerns about the size and perceived power that tech companies have,” he continued. “Ultimately, I believe companies shouldn’t be making so many judgments about important issues like harmful content, privacy and election integrity on their own. That’s why I’ve called for a more active role for governments and regulators and updated rules for the Internet. If we do this right, we can preserve what’s best about this technology — the freedom for people to connect and express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.”
The tech industry leader then discusses censorship and the removal of certain content from online platforms, if they qualify as “harmful.”
“We’ve built sophisticated systems to find and remove harmful content,” he explained. “We’re funding new technologies to tackle emerging threats like deep fakes. And we’re building products to connect people to authoritative information, like our recently introduced COVID-19 and voter information centers.”
Zuckerberg championed Facebook for connecting citizens to coronavirus statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while also purging any data or stories considered to be “misinformation,” with regard to COVID-19.
He also announced a new Facebook coronavirus “symptom survey,” which would take personal health data that is shared by users and combine it with location information, to discover “where it’s appropriate to roll back social distancing orders.”
“We connect people to authoritative health information and we’re taking aggressive steps to stop COVID-19-related misinformation and harmful content from spreading,” he wrote. “In January, we started displaying educational pop-ups in Facebook and Instagram connecting people to authoritative COVID-19-related information from organizations including the CDC, regional health authorities, and the WHO.
“We’re also using data in new ways to inform the public health response,” Zuckerberg continued. “We partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to launch a COVID-19 Symptom Survey that can help researchers predict the spread of the disease. With millions of responses, researchers are able to get a much more detailed picture of the pandemic. We also contributed aggregated anonymized location data to the COVID-19 Mobility Data Network, a group of 40 health researchers whose work helps governments determine if and where it’s appropriate to roll back social distancing orders.”
Facebook has a responsibility to stop people from interfering with online COVID conversations and is tasked with helping to eliminate voter suppression and hate speech, he claimed.
“I understand the concerns people have in these areas, and we are working to address them,” he said. “While we are making progress – for example, we have dramatically improved our ability to proactively find and remove harmful content and prevent election interference – I recognize that we have more to do.”
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., told Fox News about the agenda for the hearing and said, “There are three issues we are going to be looking at in this hearing. One is the anticompetitive behavior of these platforms. The second is the privacy issue and the third is the bias that some of these platforms engage in.”