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Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Saturday that entities outside of Facebook should set the standards for the “distribution of harmful content” online and hold platforms like his accountable.

Why it matters: With these comments, along with other specific recommendations for regulation in the Washington Post op-ed, Zuckerberg is trying to shape the terms of the multi-front debate over its collection of user data and massive influence over information.

“One idea is for third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and to measure companies against those standards. Regulation could set baselines for what’s prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum.”
— Zuckerberg

Our thought bubble: When it comes to malicious or harmful content, Zuckerberg is making an unabashed pitch for industry self-regulation. He’s implicitly presenting an alternative to slashing the law that shields Facebook and other web platforms from liability for user-generated content — a law they say is central to their business.

Other details: Zuckerberg said he believes new regulation is needed in four areas:

1. Harmful content: He said he agrees with lawmakers who suggest Facebook has too much power over speech and that Facebook shouldn't be making free speech decisions on its own — but emphasized a self-regulation regime.

  • He suggested every major internet service follow Facebook's lead in reporting how effectively they remove harmful content — "because it's just as important as financial reporting."

2. Election integrity: Making judgements about political ads "isn't always straightforward," he said. "Our systems would be more effective if regulation created common standards for verifying political actors."

  • He also said legislation should be updated to deal with how campaigns use data and targeting.

3. Privacy: Zuckerberg called for a global privacy regulation in line with the EU's strict new privacy law, GDPR. He added that governments also need to create "clear rules" around new technologies like artificial intelligence.

  • Be smart: As a global company, Facebook already has to comply with GDPR. So Facebook would rather deal with a strict global standard than have to comply with a patchwork of rules from country to country.

4. Data portability: "If you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. This gives people choice and enables developers to innovate and compete."

  • This is a proposal some lawmakers and privacy advocates have floated as a way to loosen Big Tech platform's grip on user's personal data.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 14 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 17 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 17 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.