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Zuckerberg Calls for ‘Clear Regulatory Framework’ to Counter Chinese Internet Censorship

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, Calif., April 18, 2017. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called China’s social-media censorship “really dangerous” during an online debate Monday, adding that “the best antidote” to the Chinese Communist Party’s model is “a clear regulatory framework that comes out of Western democratic countries.”

Speaking to the European Union’s internal market commissioner Thierry Breton, Zuckerberg said he was worried about China’s model “spreading to other countries.”

“The question is whose framework is going to win around the world,” the Facebook CEO posited. “That’s going to get decided in the next five to 10 years. A lot of other countries are looking at China and the companies coming out of there.”

In an October speech at Georgetown University, he slammed Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok for censoring news of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

“A decade ago, almost all of the major internet platforms were American. Today, six of the top ten are Chinese. We’re beginning to see this in social media too,” Zuckerberg stated. “While our services like WhatsApp are used by protestors and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy protections, on TikTok, the Chinese app, mentions of these same protests are censored, even here in the US. Is that the internet that we want?”

Zuckerberg has come under fire in recent months for resisting efforts to change Facebook’s political speech policy, which permits the running of political ads that contain false information. The stance caused hundreds of Facebook employees to circulate an internal letter criticizing Zuckerberg, and Hillary Clinton called the position “authoritarian” and “Trumpian” in January.

But Zuckerberg has pushed back, saying that he does not believe “a private company should be censoring politicians or news.”

“I think that people should be able to judge for themselves the character of politicians,” he said in December, after saying in October that “in a democracy, I think that people should be able to hear for themselves what politicians are saying.”

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