On Monday, billionaire leftist George Soros, seemingly panicked that President Trump might be reelected, attacked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, demanding that they be removed from their posts because Zuckerberg will not capitulate to leftists’ calls for censoring or banning political ads.
Writing in Financial Times, Soros accused Zuckerberg of having a “mutual assistance arrangement” with Trump that will “help him get re-elected.” His open letter, in which he referred to an article in Financial Times on Sunday penned by Zuckerberg, stated:
Mark Zuckerberg should stop obfuscating the facts by piously arguing for government regulation (“We need more regulation of Big Tech”, February 17). Mr. Zuckerberg appears to be engaged in some kind of mutual assistance arrangement with Donald Trump that will help him to get re-elected.
Facebook does not need to wait for government regulations to stop accepting any political advertising in 2020 until after the elections on November 4. If there is any doubt whether an ad is political, it should err on the side of caution and refuse to publish. It is unlikely that Facebook will follow this course. Therefore, I repeat my proposal, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg should be removed from control of Facebook. (It goes without saying that I support government regulation of social media platforms.)
Zuckerberg had written that he wanted to wait for regulation because he wanted a fair set of rules for everyone across the board, opining:
We believe advertising is more transparent on Facebook than television, print or other online services. We publish details about political and issue ads — including who paid for them, how much was spent, and how many people were reached — in our ads library. But who decides what counts as political advertising in a democracy? If a non-profit runs an ad about immigration during an election, is it political? Who should decide — private companies, or governments?
Another theme is openness. I’m glad the EU is looking at making data sharing easier, because it enables people to build things that are valuable for society. International agencies use Facebook’s Data for Good program to figure out which communities need help after natural disasters, and governments use our publicly available population density maps for vaccination campaigns. Of course, you should always be able to transfer your data between services.
But how do we define what counts as your data? If I share something with you, like my birthday, should you be able to take that data to other services, like your calendar app? Is that my data or yours? We have to balance promoting innovation and research against protecting people’s privacy and security. Without clear rules on portability, strict privacy laws encourage companies to lock down data, refusing to share with others, to minimize regulatory risks …
I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook’s business in the near term but it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term. These are problems that need to be fixed and that affect our industry as a whole. If we don’t create standards that people feel are legitimate, they won’t trust institutions or technology. Of course, we won’t agree with every proposal. Regulation can have unintended consequences, especially for small businesses that can’t do sophisticated data analysis and marketing on their own. Millions of small businesses rely on companies like ours to do this for them. If regulation makes it harder for them to share data and use these tools, that could disproportionately hurt them and inadvertently advantage larger companies that can.
Still, rather than relying on individual companies to set their own standards, we’d benefit from a more democratic process. This is why we’re pushing for new legislation, and it’s why we support existing US proposals to prevent election interference like the Honest Ads Act and the Deter Act.
He concluded, “I believe clearer rules would be better for everyone. The internet is a powerful force for social and economic empowerment. Regulation that protects people and supports innovation can ensure it stays that way.”