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By James Marson
MUNICH -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the social-media giant falls somewhere between a newspaper and a telecommunications company, in terms of responsibility for content, and should be regulated as such.
Mr. Zuckerberg, speaking in front of government and security officials at an annual security conference here, rejected comparisons between tech giants like his and traditional news-media outlets, which are routinely held accountable for their content. He said that responsibility devolves from having editors at those outlets heavily involved in choosing and editing content.
A different comparison, he said, would be telecommunications companies, which aren't generally held responsible for the content -- like voice communications and data -- that pass through their networks each day. "You're not going to hold a telco responsible for something harmful that's said on a phone line," he said.
"I actually think where we should be is somewhere in between," he said. He didn't describe specifically what sort of system he thought would work, or what he would be willing to support.
Big technology companies -- under assault by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic -- have moved to seize the initiative in the debate over what sort of framework can best protect users when it comes to potentially harmful internet content, while also avoid infringing on free expression.
His comments come ahead of a visit by Mr. Zuckerberg next week to Brussels, where he is expected to discuss with European Union officials a variety of regulatory issues. Earlier this week, Facebook released excerpts from a speech Mr. Zuckerberg is expected to make on Sunday acknowledging that Facebook is ready to pay higher taxes in Europe.
Mr. Zuckerberg, in comments last March, said he believed tech companies needed more regulation -- and has since outlined four broad areas over which he would welcome government oversight: elections and political discourse; content moderation; privacy; and data portability.
Other tech giants have stepped up calls for regulation, too. In January, Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google parent Alphabet Inc., called for "sensible regulation" from the EU over artificial intelligence. Airbnb Inc. called for the EU to take charge of a regional system for registering hosts that use its home-sharing website.
Mr. Zuckerberg said Saturday he was eager for governments to take the lead in terms of regulation, and that companies like his have the obligation, meanwhile, to build the "operational muscle to be able to proactively enforce whatever the policies and regulations are."
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 15, 2020 14:43 ET (19:43 GMT)
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