With one short sentence, Mark Zuckerberg rejected a long-time chestnut in Silicon Valley: that platforms aren't responsible for the content posted by users.
"I agree we are responsible for the content [on Facebook]," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told a joint session of the United States Congress today.
With one short sentence, Zuckerberg rejected a long-time chestnut in Silicon Valley: that platforms aren't responsible for the content posted by users.
It's a line that companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook itself have often fallen back on, to explain why they've been slow to address issues of hate speech, harassment, and misinformation on their services.
Facebook itself has repeatedly claimed that it's not a media company, and has no interest in making editorial judgments — and that it's largely up to users to sift truth from lies. While the social network has made some tools available to better detect fake news and misinformation, it's long left the ultimate responsibility up to users.
Now that Zuckerberg has claimed, in an incredibly public forum, that Facebook is responsible for the content posted to the social network, these excuses no longer hold water.
Later in his testimony, Zuckerberg attempted to walk back his comments slightly.
"I agree that we're responsible for the content, but we don't produce the content," Zuckerberg said later in his testimony. He said that while he sees Facebook as a tech company, not a media company, it has a certain responsibility to its users. That responsibility isn't editorial in nature, though, he said.
This genie is now out of the bottle, though, and there are sure to be repercussions, as critics use his own remarks against him.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.