Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg called for global regulators to take a “more active role” in governing the internet, among his strongest remarks yet on regulation that come after more than a year of intense scrutiny over missteps at the social network.
In an op-ed published Saturday on the websites of the Washington Post and Ireland’s Independent, Mr. Zuckerberg said such intervention is vital to protect both the welfare of users and the fundamental values of an open internet.
He said the U.S. needed European-style privacy regulations and called on regulators globally to set clearer rules regarding “harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.”
Every day, he said, Facebook makes “decisions about what speech is harmful, what constitutes political advertising, and how to prevent sophisticated cyberattacks,” calling the work necessary. “But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone,” he said.
The piece, also published on Facebook, follows a difficult two years for the company, which has been assailed by legislators and regulators for failing to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections, failing to adequately safeguard its users’ data and failing to suppress hate speech and other forms of harmful content on its platform. Earlier this month, Mr. Zuckerberg cited Facebook users’ desire to have more private conversations as the impetus for pivoting toward more intimate, encrypted messaging-based products.
It marked Mr. Zuckerberg’s clearest embrace to date of the need for governments to set rules as well as hold Facebook and its competitors accountable for lapses in content moderation and data security.
Many of Mr. Zuckerberg’s recommendations would require international cooperation, such as his proposal that governments world-wide adopt rules akin to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation—widely regarded as among the most stringent in its requirements on privacy and data security. Other tech executives, including Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook and Google chief Sundar Pichai, also have suggested the U.S. pursue stricter privacy rules.
Governments globally need similar rules, Mr. Zuckerberg said, to “ensure that the Internet does not get fractured.”
His proposals also highlight ways in which Facebook’s business is changing. His embrace of privacy regulations, stricter content-moderation requirements and data portability—in which users would be able to access and interact with personal accounts across many different sites and apps—echoes proposals made by Facebook opponents within just the past few years.
“People shouldn’t have to rely on individual companies addressing these issues by themselves,” Mr. Zuckerberg concluded in his op-ed. “We should have a broader debate about what we want as a society and how regulation can help.”