Mark Zuckerberg Claims Facebook Does 'More to Address Misinformation Than Any Other Company'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that his platform does "more to address misinformation than any other company."

In prepared remarks released ahead of his appearance before Congress on Thursday, the billionaire tech boss outlined how his suite of apps and services are combating misinformation about COVID vaccines and elections in the United States.

Zuckerberg will say: "As one of the leading platforms where people share information and express themselves, misinformation is an ongoing challenge for us.

"With millions of Americans using our services every day, there will always be things we miss. However, I believe we do more to address misinformation than any other company, and I am proud of the teams and systems we have built."

The testimony will be given to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, with Zuckererg appearing virtually alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The proceedings are taking place under the name "Disinformation Nation: Social Media's Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation."

The trio of U.S. technology giants were in the spotlight throughout the 2020 presidential election, and all three services placed restrictions on former president Donald Trump in the wake of the Capitol Building riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6.

While some Republicans have accused Facebook and Twitter, specifically, of censoring the views of conservatives, Democrats have also criticized the companies for allowing the spread of false information and hateful content to billions of users.

Facebook maintains that it has worked hard to tackle such issues, including bans on the QAnon conspiracy theory, militias and white supremacy groups. The question for the committee members is an obvious one: Is the company doing enough?

An investigation by NewsGuard, a media credibility watchdog, previously concluded that Facebook was a "super-spreader" of election misinformation.

The NewsGuard report stated: "New false stories emerge daily, with inaccurate and deceptive interpretations of events that are perfectly normal."

A separate investigation conducted by Press Gazette suggested that misinformation about COVID was more likely to be sourced from Facebook, when compared to Twitter or YouTube.

During his campaign, President Joe Biden's team was a frequent critic of Facebook and previously suggested the site should not enjoy Section 230 protections, referring to a legal shield that protects it from lawsuits based on content shared by its users.

"The idea that it's a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms," Biden said in an interview with The New York Times' editorial board last December.

In his prepared remarks, it was clear that Zuckerberg would seek to address the issue— although the response from Democrats suggests it will remain a sticking point. On the challenges posed by Section 230, Zuckerberg is calling for "thoughtful reform."

He suggested that platforms should not be liable if content evades detection because it would be "impractical for platforms with billions of posts per day."

Instead, he will pitch that sites should be asked to have "adequate systems in place to address unlawful content." The definition of an adequate system, Zuckerberg will say, could be "proportionate to platform size and set by a third-party" entity.

The argument was not widely embraced. California Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo called Zuckerberg's proposal a "masterful distraction" at a media briefing on Wednesday, as reported by CNBC. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) appeared to agree, saying the stance put forward was "a classic example of Facebook hoping that we miss the point."

Eshoo and Malinowski proposed the "Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act," which would remove Section 230 immunity if the website's own algorithms had aimplified a post about global terrorism or civil rights violations, CNBC noted.

"They want us to focus on putting out fires, and not on the fact that their product is flammable," Rep. Malinowski said on Wednesday.

Critics have warned that revoking Section 230 would result in major disruption to the internet—and social networking—as we know it, but admit reform is possible.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), an original author of the 230 legislation, said on Wednesday that Zuckerberg's pitch would "cement Facebook's position as the dominant social media company" as changes would impact smaller startups over tech giants.

"Everyone working to address real issues online should be deeply wary about Mark Zuckerberg's proposals for new regulations," Sen. Wyden said in a statement.

CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg
CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg appears on a monitor as he testifies remotely during the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill, October 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg this week claimed that his platform does “more to address misinformation than any other company.” Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts