Mark Zuckerberg: 'I Believe We Need a More Active Role for Governments and Regulators'

Facebook and the end of the open Internet era


Stephen Lam/REUTERS/Newscom

This weekend, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the end of the open internet era, proclaiming in a Washington Post op-ed:

I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what's best about it—the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things—while also protecting society from broader harms.

Specifically, Zuckerberg emphasized "we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability."

Let's be clear that the internet was never about an escape from rules; it was a place for people to build new, supplemental spaces that would generate their own rules. The internet would finally deliver on "the consent of the governed" because people could just go elsewhere if a virtual community became too stultifying.

As John Perry Barlow wrote in his 1996 "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,"

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather….You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract. This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

The declaration was published the same day that President Bill Clinton signed ithe bipartisan Communications Decency Act (CDA), which would have regulated the internet like a broadcast network by giving the government broad powers to control "indecent" material. A year later, the Supreme Court struck down the speech-killing parts of the CDA, with Justice John Paul Stevens writing for the majority, "The Government may not 'reduc[e] the adult population…to…only what is fit for children.'"

But when the titans of tech are calling for their own regulation by "weary giants of flesh and steel," you're in a very different ballgame. And Zuckerberg is not alone in pleading for government controls. Over the past year, typically in front of Congress, the heads of Twitter, Google, and Apple have all announced in favor of "new rules." Indeed, Apple's Tim Cook, the CEO of the planet's biggest company, said just last December:

I'm a big believer in the free market. But we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn't worked here. I think it's inevitable that there will be some level of regulation….I think the Congress and the administration at some point will pass something.

The core problem with Zuckerberg's thinking is that he doesn't trust his users to use the tools that Facebook and other social media platforms provide. He writes:

We have a responsibility to keep people safe on our services. That means deciding what counts as terrorist propaganda, hate speech and more. We continually review our policies with experts, but at our scale we'll always make mistakes and decisions that people disagree with.

Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree. I've come to believe that we shouldn't make so many important decisions about speech on our own. So we're creating an independent body so people can appeal our decisions. We're also working with governments, including French officials, on ensuring the effectiveness of content review systems.

Goodbye to hive minds, the wisdom of crowds, and the disintermediation that allow each of us to decide what is "terrorist propaganda, hate speech and more." We're back in bad old meatspace, with "independent bodies" and expert committees and all that.

To a degree that we've never seen before, social media let each of us tailor our feeds according to our wishes rather than that of producers, bullies, or governments. If you don't want to see Alex Jones's psychotic screeds or Diamond & Silk's pro-Trump stuff or whatever, you can turn it off. True threats, fighting words, fraud, and other criminal acts have never been exempted simply because they take place in cyberspace, but now tech leaders are actively inviting the government into their executive suites in ways that were almost unimaginable a couple of decades ago.

Facebook and the other tech giants are under immense political pressure to make peace with governments around the world. But there's another factor, something Zuck himself mentioned to Congress last year during its hearings on regulating social media. "When you add more rules that companies need to follow," he said, "that's something that larger companies like ours just has the resources to go do and it just might be harder for a smaller company just getting started to comply with." (Watch the video below for that and similar quotes.) When regulation comes to a sector, the existing firms often get to write the rules, fashioning them to protect themselves from current and future competitors. This is nothing new, of course. Back in the day (and contrary to the story that most progressives tell themselves), rail barons, "facing falling profits and diffusion of economic power…turned to the state to regulate the economy on their behalf."

Tech giants are ready, willing, and happy to be regulated, because it will help them maintain their current positions more easily than free-er competition. In his Post piece, Zuckerberg declares that he is ready to put away his childish things and be a responsible adult:

The rules governing the Internet allowed a generation of entrepreneurs to build services that changed the world and created a lot of value in people's lives. It's time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies and governments going forward.

Goodbye, open internet; you will be missed.

Video: "Why Facebook 'Welcomes Regulation'":

NEXT: These Three Cities Spent $70 Million on Stadiums to Lure Minor League Baseball Teams. They All Struck Out.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “I’m a big believer in the free market. But”

    Fuck off, corporate cronyist whore.

    “Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech”

    …and they want in on it.

    1. You know you’ve done fucked up when Eddy is dropping f-bombs. Now, that will be five Hail Marry’s, Eddy.

      1. I am making 7 to 6 dollar par hour at home on laptop ,, This is make happy But now i am Working 4 hour Dailly and make 40 dollar Easily .. This is enough for me to happy my family..how ?? i am making this so u can do it Easily….

        Click this link

        =====>>>> http://www,Aprocoin.com

      2. I am making 7 to 6 dollar par hour at home on laptop ,, This is make happy But now i am Working 4 hour Dailly and make 40 dollar Easily .. This is enough for me to happy my family..how ?? i am making this so u can do it Easily….

        Click this link

        =====>>>> http://www.aprocoin.com

    2. I don’t disagree with that sentiment. These groups DO have too much power.

      I’d like regulation restricting their control over speech to be nearly zero.

      1. Not only the government, but criminal prosecutors should have been involved in restraining inappropriate Internet “speech” years ago. There is ample president for action here in New York, and several of us here at NYU are working closely with legislators on a plan for policing all social media sites, beginning with basic requirements involving verification of user identities, along with punishment, including hefty fines and incarceration, for various degrees of impropriety. See the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:


    3. It’s good to see you get angry every now and again. It’s has a satisfying shock to it. Like hearing your Nana swear.

  2. Fuck Zuckerberg.

    “I got mine, now it’s time to make sure it stays that way.”

    1. ^^^Exactly this. Innovators are always against regulation until they become the market leader. Then it’s a way to insure their place at the top of the food chain.

    2. Zuckerberg is a cock-sucking crony.

  3. I just want to be sure I get a law that specifically allows me sell all the data I scoop up as long as I call it ‘data portability’. (and if it inhibits competition, so much the better)

    I find it amusing beyond belief that he puts ‘privacy’ and ‘data portability’ side by side.

    1. Facebook doesn’t sell data it sells ads based on the data.

      1. Search again.
        Maybe put Cambridge Analytica in the box as well – – – – –

      2. Sam Harris had an expert on Facebook data collection (and former adviser to Zuckerberg) on his podcast last night. Ultimately he didn’t convince me that there should be government regulation about any of this, but he did convince me that the tech giants do some pretty shady stuff in collecting data, and they do make serious bank off the data they get from any user.

  4. Zuckerberg is Exhibit #1 for a wealth tax.

    1. Are we sure Zuckerberg is not a Boston Dynamics robot?

      1. Zucker-borg

    2. Then you don’t understand what wealth is and how it cannot be taxed. You seem to think it is a Scrooge McDuck swimming pool full of gold and greenbacks which can be confiscated and passed around to cronies like candy. It isn’t.

      It s stocks and bands. Factories, warehouses, oil wells, mines, farms, malls, data centers, banks, ships and trucks and railroads and airplanes.

      If the State confiscates wealth, they become owners of the means of production. Is that your goal?

      If your goal instead is to convert all that stuff into cash by selling it, good luck, because everybody that could have bought would have to sell their own wealth to do so, and it’s been confiscated too.

      Zuckerberg’s wealth is probably mostly Facebook stock. You really do want the government to control social media, don’t you?

      Fuck off, slaver.

      1. Golly. So wealth cannot be taxed – but it can make sure that govt becomes tyrannical.

        HELL of a fucking system you favor

        1. You seem incapable of addressing the points I listed in response to your comment. Maybe I should just stop at “You seem incapable.”

          1. WTF do you think is the purpose of him calling for regulation? It is to protect the value of that Facebook stock. To protect and defend his WEALTH. Not his income (which is prob little more than the symbolic $1). And his wealth is also the only reason he has influence. This ain’t goddamn unique to him at all either. Our govt has been fucking owned by that billionaire crowd for a few decades now – from making sure immigration is managed to create competition at the bottom to getting bailed out by TARP to making sure interest rates are distorted so asset values increase to etcetcetc. and now – regulation of speech on the Internet.

            Of course that wealth should be taxed.

            1. No

    3. “Zuckerberg is Exhibit #1 for a wealth tax.”

      Exhibit #1 of JFree’s ‘intelligence”.

    4. Wealth is not money. Someone can be a millionaire and be cash poor. How do they pay the tax? Sell their stuff? What if nobody wants to buy it? Confiscate their stuff? People say taxation is theft. A wealth tax would indeed the outright theft.

  5. Sure, that’s a brilliant idea: put the internet under the control of people who have to have their staffers handle their Twitter accounts for them. Yeah, I’m sure that will end well.

  6. Just follow the NAP Zuck and all will be fine.

    1. Nationalize

      1. Welcome to the revolution

      2. North

        1. No Dana, only Zuck.

  7. Damn, Nick, this is a grim article. Zuckerberg is a terrible person. I’d advise everyone to either quit Facebook or use it as little as possible going forward.

  8. “Please make laws that only my company is big enough to be able to comply with. It will ensure a prosperous future!”

    1. Europe: “You’re welcome. Here’s GDPR”

  9. Zuckerberg is now officially Awful Squared.

  10. Drumpf has been a Russian intelligence asset since 1987, and it still took Russia almost 3 decades to install him as US President. Why couldn’t they do it earlier? Because hacking an election wasn’t possible until the Internet became such an important part of our lives.

    If that’s not a compelling reason for greater Internet regulation, I don’t know what is. Good for Zuckerberg.

    1. You apparently have access to better weed than I do. Plz share sources/strains so I can get as mentally fucked up as you.


  11. An old high school acquaintance posted the following question on Facebook:

    “Should I buy my high school senior a brand new Mercedes?? I’m afraid it will get scratched in the parking lot.”

    Fuck Zuck for creating this monstrosity.

    1. Keep hate alive, Tony!

      1. Do you find such flagrant boasting to be charming?

        1. Didn’t realize the internet existed to charm you, Tone…

        2. Yeah, idiot!

        3. A good True Believing Communist like you shouldn’t have such evil capitalist friends on Facebook, that’s you’re real problem!

          But in all fairness, that’s some bullshit indirect bragging right there. Even if I have 10 million in the bank by the time my future hypothetical kids are seniors in HS, they ain’t gettin’ a dime from me for a car. They can get a damn job and buy their own fucking car!

  12. Nobody hates capitalism and free markets more than somebody who made a ton of cash off the free market. Then they want to block anybody else from following their roadmap.

  13. Mind you, I’m on board with regulation. Just if Zuckerberg has no issues with it, it is thoroughly the wrong kind.

  14. It’s unthinkable to me to anyone with a modicum of sense could even begin to think that giving the feds power to regulate something like Facebook is a good idea. It’s a disaster for liberty, free expression, free enterprise and free association all the way down. SMDH at these fools.

    1. “”It’s a disaster for liberty, free expression, free enterprise and free association all the way down””

      I’m not convinced the new generation believes in them.

      1. Hell I’m sure they definitely do not.

        1. After steeping for long enough in government schools with teachers that skew left, it’d be surprising if they weren’t authoritarian in most ways.

  15. But when the titans of tech are calling for their own regulation by “weary giants of flesh and steel,” you’re in a very different ballgame.

    He’s asking for someone to blame when Facebook is “forced” to delete “harmful” content. Both he and the government agree that the government is the perfect target.

    1. No, he is fairly certain he can spend enough to make the regulations protect him and kill off hopeful competitors.

      1. But yeah, this reeks of epic levels of buck passing.

        Which is what I said.

  16. Specifically, Zuckerberg emphasized “we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.”

    Part of this sentiment is coming out of the tech sectors awful efforts at self-policing. They’re under fire from their users for bizarre, arbitrary bans and rules which highly biased and appear in every reasonable way to be pushing a silicon valley-centric narrative. Zuckerberg wants to outsource the censorship back to the government. If you get unpersoned, hey, that’s not on the Zuckster, go talk to your representative.

    1. …yet kids manage to get adult magazines regularly and nobody is really calling for printed media to be heavily regulated.

      But yeah, this reeks of epic levels of buck passing.

    2. When you ask progressive institutions to self-police, they will 100% of the time fuck the whole thing up.

      You can’t self-govern warm fuzzies, which is what they are trying to do. They are punting this over the fence to the government who will just fuck it up even worse than these progressives already have.

      1. The real problem is culture – the fact that the U.S. is full of a bunch of limp-wristed fools. To protect our feelings, we’re asking for other people’s rights to be taken away by corporations (because the government can only take away our rights in half-measures).

        1. Well, mostly it’s HALF or so of the US that is a bunch of limp-wristed fools. The other half still just wants to be left the fuck alone.

  17. Possible he’s trying to preempt local and state regulations that he knows are coming, which are very cumbersome and expensive and which are what keeps CEOs up at night, with federal regulations which are easier to manage and influence. Still a dick.

  18. Part of the issue is that these major social media sites are starting to be treated like public utilities. For example, people believe that they have a “right” to participate in public discourse on Twitter because so many public figures use it as a platform to communicate.

    1. I agree with their logic. The public square is online. Now that we know this, we discover that we have 2 threats – government and large multinational corporations. The government is restrained by the consistution when it comes to limiting speech. Corporations are restrained by nothing, which puts a limit on political speech (particularly speech directed at politicians). If we regulate them, it should be to require these companies to abide by 1st A… if they choose not to, then they should become a “content publisher” and thus be open to lawsuits, etc.

      1. Corporations are restrained by nothing

        I don’t think you understand how corporations work.

        1. I should have put a qualifier (although, TBH, you should have been able to gather this from the context of what I said) – corporations are restrained by nothing insofar as it comes to regulating speech. They can do whatever they want in their ToS.

          1. Wrong again mr flanders. For one thing, corporations CANNOT regulate speech. Good grief.

          2. Now I’m sure you don’t understand how corporations work.

      2. “The government is restrained by the consistution when it comes to limiting speech.”

        You live where recreational drugs are legal, don’t you?

        1. #1 reason why libertarians are irrelevant: They let the main points go whooosh over their heads while they focus on irrelevant BS.

          1. Nothing you didn’t deserve.

            1. Glad you’re here to met out judgement.

        2. Excellent point. Show me a constitutional guarantee that hasn’t been fucked by the modern judiciary. Every single one of our constitutional rights have been trampled by the government. In reality, they have no legal right to restrict any constitutional guarantee; but we the citizen let them do that nonetheless,

          1. A point that is so far away from what was originally being discussed…

      3. All these shoulds you keep spouting off, that’s just like, your opinion man.

      4. “The government is restrained by the consistution when it comes to limiting speech.”

        Not European governments. And they are the ones that have been agitating for regulation the earliest and the longest.

  19. One of the things Facebook will be looking for is regulatory protection from the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act.

    “Federal officials accused Facebook Inc. Thursday of unlawful discrimination by allowing real-estate companies to target potential customers by race, religion and other factors, and signaled that other online advertising platforms are in its crosshairs.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development said the social-media giant violated the Fair Housing Act “by restricting who can view housing-related ads.”

    HUD has sent letters to a number of technology companies, including Alphabet Inc. unit Google and Twitter Inc., asking for more information about their sophisticated advertising systems, an agency official said.”

    —-WSJ, March 29, 2019


    1. Call it “Goldwater’s revenge”.

      On the one hand, there are progressives who want to expand public accommodations rules by twisting current law to include things like LGBTQI+ under protections against discrimination on the basis of sex (as if that were the intention of lawmakers in 1964). On the other hand, there are the progressives who will only accept exceptions to current civil rights law if it’s done on the basis of regulation that’s meant to determine what people can or can’t say online in the form of “hate speech”, etc.?

      The time for libertarians to assert our rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech on principle is right fucking now. So, maybe the CRA is incompatible with 21st century technology! So let’s amend it rather than give Zuckerberg’s shareholders a free ride and everyone else the finger. Freedom of association is both ugly and principled. So what? Fuck hate speech laws, too. No apologies. Bending over for novel and aesthetically pleasing interpretations of those rights so we can appeal to the hipster left is about to blow up in our faces.

  20. If only there had been a few more boxcars in 1940s Germany.

    1. Yes, then maybe fucktards like yourself wouldn’t have been genetically possible.

  21. Ad hoc mesh networks, bitcoin, private systems paid for with bitcoin micropayments. Fuck the government, fuck FB and Google.

    1. Wear a condom; I hear there are some nasty viruses out there – – – –

  22. Don’t get your news from Facebook. Save if for posting your vacation photos.

  23. Sure, that’s a brilliant idea: put the internet under the control of people who have a vested interest in stifling free speech. Yeah, I’m sure that will end well.

  24. Zuckerberg’s a sell-out. This is a blatant attempt at regulatory capture to eliminate his competition.

  25. “Mark Zuckerberg: ‘I Believe We Need a More Active Role for Governments and Regulators'”

    That’s the spirit Zuckie!
    Bring fascism to the United States.
    We need more censorship and controlled information.
    Otherwise we might have a free country, and no fascist like you wants that.

  26. I’ve come to believe that we shouldn’t make so many important decisions about speech on our own.

    IOW, this shit is hard and we want a scapegoat.

  27. The rules governing the Internet allowed a generation of entrepreneurs to build services that changed the world and created a lot of value in people’s lives. It’s time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies and governments going forward.

    IOW, we got ours, and tough luck for future generations.

  28. If they go through with this I’m deleting my Facebook account. I don’t think I’ll really miss it.

    1. You can’t really delete it.

    2. Why wait? I deleted mine about 2 years ago and I don’t miss it at all.

  29. Sure, that’s a brilliant idea: put the internet under the control of people who are the most morally corrupt people in the country. Yeah, I’m sure that will end well.

  30. Uhhhh, Faceberg and Big Government have been in each others’ hip pockets for years now.

    But I I guess it’s nice that he has finally stopped pretending otherwise.

  31. I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it?the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things?while also protecting society from broader harms.

    Shorter Zuckerberg – I have an staff of compliance officers so I’m completely onboard with using government violence to hamstring my competitors and lock in my business model.

  32. The root cause for internet brain rot are the human guppies that gulp whatever they are fed. Regulation won’t change a thing.

  33. I can’t imagine a more repulsively ignorant, control-freak piece of shit than zuckerTURD. He should be caned to death.

  34. I am 100% in favor of regulating speech on social media platforms. Heck, I’ll even give you the entirety of the law:

    “No social media platform or online forum shall be able to censor or limit a users free speech in any way, provided it is speech that is legal under the 1st Amendment.”

    DONE. Then they can direct complaints about dick pics to guvmint, and also offer people check boxes for what kind of stuff they want blocked on THEIR feed only. The responsibility if off of them, which they want, and free speech of ALL people is protected.

    1. Start your own platform. There’s no need for this law. No one is forced to be on fb.

      1. I get it dude. I’m more libertarian than 99.9% of the population. But one has to accept reality for what it is. With a lot of these companies THE REASON some of them are as big as they are is BECAUSE they were pushed by banks, financiers, the media, etc. Do you see the difference in the way the “establishment” has been treating Gab (an actual free speech social media platform) vs how they treated other sparkling can never do wrong startups like Facebook? No big money players would touch Gab with a 10 foot pole, even if it were blowing up… And actually, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Gabs growth has actually been comparable to FBs in its first year or two now that I think about it.

        Anyway, it’s beyond just being a “build a competitor” situation IMO. A lot of dogmatic libertarians seem to not accept the fact that we’re not in business as usual stage anymore… The fight for freedom is in active war stage. And the truth is, like it or not, things that are unacceptable in peace time are MUST DO things in time of war.

        We’re still in information war stage, not shooting war mind you… But the concept of one sided taking the high road has done exactly WHAT for liberty? Oh, lost tons of it. I see. IMO we’ve got to fight dirty, or lose. The left does, and it works great for them.

        We can return to taking the high minded approach once we’ve restored some sanity to the world.

        1. That said, on this particular proposed law of mine, I don’t see how a pro free speech person can really bitch about it. Allow users to filter their feed (to please moms and SJWs), give the companies the cop out for why offensive speech is allowed so SJWs can’t complain, and everybody wins.

          If I were suggesting some draconian committee to decide what is and is not allowed, I could see the reason to bitch… THAT is a horrible idea. But all legal speech is allowed? Not so much.

          1. Except that by definition forcing someone to allow another person to use their speech platform is by itself against the first amendment. Your law could never exist, because your pragmatic reasoning fails, for the same reasons that ends-justifies-the-means reasoning fails 100% of the time. If someone is allowed to ignore the Constitution, even one time, because they have a really good reason, then the Constitution is meaningless. Everyone always thinks they have a really good reason to do what they want to do. If you care about the Constitution, then you must always oppose violating it, every time, no exceptions. And if you don’t care about the Constitution, then your opinion is meaningless in such a debate.

            1. LOL

              You think we’re still at a stage where the constitution means fuck all??? LOLOLOLOLOL

              Uhhh, this is the 21st century buddy, get up to speed.

              Can’t force association huh… Ever heard of the Civil Rights Act? Ever heard of the 1000 unconstitutional laws built upon it, that FORCE ASSOCIATION? Yeah. There ya have it.

              In a COMPLETELY different, and better I might add, world I would be right there with ya. The thing is, that ship sailed a long time ago. Ever notice how fighting to legalize heroin on principle has got libertarians where exactly… Oh, nowhere. Yet arguing on pragmatic grounds for weed at least moved shit in the right direction.

              This country is done IMO, but if we’re ever going to salvage anything out of the wreckage it will be pragmatic shit that isn’t TOO horrible in terms of principles. Call me a cynic if ya want, but there it is.

  35. Of course you do Mark. Government regulation helps large existing businesses keep out smaller competition.

  36. Five steps to stop the insanity:

    1. Anybody who still uses Facebook, stops.

    2. Anybody who still uses *any* site that *allows* private people to display their real names, home addresses, recognizable photos of children, etc., stops that too.

    3. Anybody who calls for censorship, especially of anti-corporate content, is instantly held up for public ridicule. We can make Bayer be the loudest voice denouncing the fool who wanted to stifle the Glyphosate Awareness chat, because “Everyone *knows*, it’s *axiomatic*, that people *only* *ever* want to silence *debate* when they’re ALTOGETHER WRONG.”

    4. We spread the word. We build the companies that preserve privacy by not collecting private information and preserve sanity by ignoring calls for censorship. Twitter, Live Journal, Blogger grow. Facebook, Quora, and other real-name-displayers die.

    5. If the twin monsters of Big Business and Big Government override these steps and demand more information, we just dump the electronics. Plenty of people remember when we found it easier to earn more money using typewriters. And let Big Business and Big Government worry about where to put all the discarded computers, cell phones, and “smart” appliances.

    Do young people have the personal fortitude to make this plan work? I don’t know. But it *will* work–if they have.

  37. Letting his Inner-Fascist run free.

  38. Thanks admin for giving such valuable information through your article . Your article is much more similar to https://www.pradabagtmall.com/ word unscramble tool because it also provides a lot of knowledge of vocabulary new words with its meanings.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.