Listen: Facebook, Casey, League Zuckerberg discussed on The Vergecast
"And it has these two weird speeds to it one is the stuff happening every day and every week like why are they talking about Australia and whose is like idiot ambassador to the EU and Mike how do you make sense of that and on the other hand impeach him brings up all these slow moving issues it don't make the headlines every day what is a high crime and misdemeanor like what did the founders meanwhile wrote that how is partisan polarization playing and so we're going to try to put together show here it's GonNa hit both of these in their own way talking to box journalists who are covering this and making sense out of what happened that week then also easing back half of the show to talk with an expert somebody's been studying this somebody who has an angle on the show begins again October Nineteenth on Saturday it'll come out every Saturday after that so please subscribe and apple podcasts or Stitcher or get your podcasts AC- don't miss an episode back so big news today Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech about free speech at Georgetown heads of state have given speeches in in DC. I didn't get to see the speech was in a meeting but I read some transcripts but adding you're hear Casey you're here you watched this thing Casey tell me what you thought of it I thought the speech was more interesting for wise October gave it than what it said and I thought it was interesting in the way that it positions facebook against some of the other tech companies in Silicon Valley Right so over the past few weeks a big debate has broken out over in particular should facebook permit lies in political ads and breath Warren has led the charge and saying they absolutely should not they are profiting from misinformation and there is a moral case against this company profiting from misinformation and basically just hasn't had that much to say about that so far and so this speech today from Zuckerberg was a way of saying look Polish wants to lie we think that there should be a record of that and we think that the citizens of the democracy should discuss it and it should not be incumbent on a private company to police that speech so he wanted to make essential Lee a counter moral case for physics decisions so give me just a sense of the speech itself he I it's very long I couldn't locate like a thesis but tell me what was it it was like forty minutes I mean when you think about the kind of televised speeches that leaders give it wasn't Lat Long I guess I'm only reading the transcripts I'm looking I'm like wow this is a lot of scrolling okay that's only forty minutes but I couldn't really grasp the thesis tell me what it actually contained so Zuckerberg is released staking this next iteration of facebook's future on the idea that the company is about voice and inclusion and connection and that the company is making the bed that the world will get better if people are our people are connected and can share their voices and so he wanted to make a case for that and then in what was definitely the worst part of the speech he sorta ret conned the origin from being about the the rating of hot people on campus without actually started to being about away to let people protest the Iraq war which you know to be yeah that was not the reason why facebook was started and certainly the existence of facebook didn't seem to have much effect on the you know unfolding of the Iraq war did strike me I was saying before we got started there's almost something pointed about the fact that Mark Zuckerberg has no lived life experience like Inbetween College and starting facebook and what he wants to talk about like formative experiences in his life there's like the two years of college and like the stuff that happened to him while he was the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world so he's kind of like disadvantage there it just kind of coming across as a normal person yeah it's true he can't be like when Yahoo wanted to buy my company something that we've all experienced she's done in the past like that's an example it's actually kind just read this is how the speech started yeah the low point is at the beginning of the speech and I know you're like digging into it so i WanNa ask you but let me just read this is literally how it beginning I could not get past this when I was reading the transcript so here's here's October when I was in college I had just gone to war in Iraq the mood on campus was disbelief event like we're acting without hearing a lot of important perspectives I feel like I could put a big asterix there but I'll just move on off the toll on soldiers families are national severe and Missile Palace stop it I remember feeling that if more people out of voices share their experiences maybe things have gone differently those earlier shaped my belief that giving you choice empowers the powerless and I decided we'd better back then I was building an early version of Ace but from my community another astros there's disease believes play out at a smaller scale I wanted the thing you know like genius where like you said stop and it just me screaming like a lot of people protested the Iraq war uson in this country about whether that was a bad idea but if they protested on facebook facebook maybe it wouldn't happen. Let me play devil's advocate though which is the you too movement did not happen before a social media black lives matter did not happen for social media the Arab spring did not happen before social media right fair so there have been these number of of a groundswell of public opinion that do seem like they have benefited from the viral machinery of social networks. Do we have to keep that in mind as we're weighing it against the many obvious negative consequences I think this is the problem with the speech which is that he is making a lot of points that are good but in ways that are extremely disingenuous like the ridiculous thing is not that facebook could have helped like that social media could help the Arab spring or cases like this it's that Mark Zuckerberg certainly did not start it with the intention of doing that and that's how this opens so Eddy you're literally writing a piece about facebook's inception itself give us the sort of actual wall thing that happened so the time as we invade Iraq in March of two thousand three after millions of people protest in October on the chief weapons inspector says there were no weapons of mass destruction in early November Mark Zuckerberg almost gets kicked out of Harvard I starting hotter not clone using facebook using photos on face mash which would later become facebook through a series of not being facebook yeah it was the predecessor of Magin I mean I was in college at that time it gypped people on campus we're certainly talking about the war but there's no correlation here and I think vet also facebook was explicitly it was one of the less broadcast folk and like voice focused things like the point was that you could become friends with a person that you had met on campus like it was explicitly touted as a thing where oh yeah you're connecting with people you already know you are you this isn't like my space you're not going to try to put yourself there's a star it's to help people get to know each other it's like a yearbook yeah and there was no news feed there was no engine vitality hated the news feed when it started yeah like these points are also deeply true that we should just move on like the opening of the speech was a like a calamity I think the more interesting stuff is him -sition evening facebook as a moral leader at a time when other companies are deeply compromised by their relations to China and we are going to just have to do all kinds of horrible things that we Americans like and facebook by virtue of the fact that it was never allowed in the first place has this wide open lane sator against big tech he just met with Soccer Berg and so he his response to the speech was a series of tweets being like when I'm in China he said well if he'd have to censor to comply with local laws but now that he's not there this is so convenient like Josh Holly is not buying this read I do see this speech as soccer trying to rally the Conservatives who are always complaining about conservative bias were always complaining about censorship around him in for them to say he cares about free speech here are the difficult trade offs yes to make so to make it clear that he is not trying to censor if you believe that this is happening but it is he's actually on their side and that is I think very clever but I it conflates two very important things one facebook is not all of social media in the Casey makes most broadly is for social media to exist not necessarily for face to exist and then it conflates face ability to moderate in a difficult environment with some difficult trade offs with its size right like one I think one of the more subtle claims here is that only by achieving its size and scale can facebook even begin to handle the moderation challenge of the modern net and I think everybody listening to this knows I don't believe that necessarily that facebook needs that scale but this casing audio you had he point out the election safety team they spend more on it than twitter's entire revenue than everyone laughed in this one he points out that they're moderation effort costs more than their revenue at Launch the revenue IPO so he's making this implicit case for facebook to be huge. When the truth is like your problem scale with your size facebook had zero content moderators when it was at Harvard right but then they brought more people into the platform and those people cause problems and then they had to hire people to like go clean up those messes and then eventually the problems became far worse than there moderators could get a grip on it they've been playing catchup ever since so yes I agree the size is the real issue it's the thing that nobody ever wants to talk about because the unstated logic and all of this is please let us find an ideology that will let us maintain the status quo right and like that is what does this is a way like how can facebook exist as it is today but under some mm sort of unifying moral banner rallying cry that will still entice college seniors who are smart to want to work there to me that's that's like the backdrop for all of this but you know somebody who's been watching all of these companies just trip over themselves with regard to China I like I am on facebook site here in in that specific way I do want to see a social network that allows a wide range of free speech on political subjects including soft that I don't agree with it makes me super uncomfortable right and at the same time you look at what apple is about it goes through you look at what blizzard is already going through there are so many you know American companies that that have Chinese ownership interests and they're like League Zuckerberg is smart to see that he has an open lane when it comes to championing a a sort of a very foundational American value he can kind of go wave that flag and guess who can't Tim Cook Tim Cook's in a wave that flag when he wants to notably the one true big competitor on the horizon is just actually Chinese company took yes like there could be no better time for tick tock to have emerged as I was walking into the studio pro tech crunch put up an article."