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Aspen Ideas Festival: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, at the Aspen Ideas Festival talking about the internet, government regulations, innovation and privacy.
Ian Wagreich | The Aspen Institute

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was a last minute addition to the schedule last week at the Aspen Ideas Festival and he answered a wide range of important questions from Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein.

They talked about the biggest social issues facing the internet: misinformation and harmful content, privacy, election security and ways to prevent election interference, and the balance of societal values with the constitutional requirement for free speech.

An issue that has received less attention than these others, but is as important, Zuckerberg said, is "portability and interoperability and being able to move between services to increase innovation, competition, and enable research."

On the subject of election integrity, which Zuckerberg said was a top priority, he added that efforts to sow division among Americans is certainly coming from foreign entities, but it also comes from other Americans. 

"As a private company, we don't have the tools to make the Russian government stop," he said, adding "we can defend as best as we can, but our government is the one that has the tools to apply pressure to Russia, not us."

Zuckerberg said Facebook is "spending billions on security." 

Turning to what's called "content moderation," Zuckerberg said Americans value free expression, and "we have to be very careful about what you're defining as misinformation... it can be very easily politicized." 

Regarding censoring the internet, he asked, "is it against the rules to say something that isn't factual?"  

Responding to calls for the breakup of the big tech companies like Facebook, Zuckerberg said he does not think that's a good idea.

But, he added, "I just think that the equities and the values that are at stake are so important to our society, and if you want the principles to apply across the whole industry, that [government] regulation is appropriate and that's why I've been calling for it." 

Mark Zuckerberg and Cass Sunstein took the stage right after the musician, actor and philanthropist who goes by the name of Common. Common was twice nominated for an Academy Award  for Best Original Song. The event was held June 26, 2019 in Aspen, Colo.