When it comes to conspiracy theory-peddling sites like InfoWars, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social network leans towards dinging their ranking on the News Feed, rather than ban them outright.
“The approach that we’ve taken to false news is not to say, you can’t say something wrong on the internet. I think that that would be too extreme,” Zuckerberg said on the Recode Decode podcast on Wednesday. “Everyone gets things wrong, and if we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that.”
InfoWars, of course, has gotten a lot wrong in its time. The Alex Jones-led site has argued the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, and recently said that Democrats planned to launch a civil war on the Fourth of July.
Zuckerberg weighed in on more from the worst the internet has to offer. He said he finds Holocaust denial “deeply offensive,” but that he doesn’t believe Facebook “should take that down.” Zuckerberg added it’s difficult to “understand the intent” behind such comments, but that it wasn’t Facebook’s place to weigh in, unless users are being harassed. He later emailed Recode to clarify he “absolutely didn’t intend to defend” Holocaust deniers, after his comments had circulated for a few hours on Wednesday.
And while Zuckerberg thinks some of the content on InfoWars is “abhorrent” and “false,” he thinks that censoring it is not the right approach. “I do think that it gets down to this principle of giving people a voice,” said the 34-year-old exec.
Facebook has been criticized by many in the media world, as well as Congress, for its approach to content moderation. The company was in Washington on Tuesday to discuss censorship on social media, with several Republicans claiming Facebook intentionally silences conservative voices. On the other hand, Facebook’s handling of fake news — pushing it down on the News Feed — has been critiqued as well.
Zuckerberg added: “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.’”
You can listen to the full podcast here.