Nick Clegg, Meta Platforms Inc.’s president for global affairs, on Thursday said Facebook’s parent company would become “the greatest industrial-scale censor ever in human history” if it removes too much content from its platforms.
Clegg, speaking at an event hosted by news outlet Semafor in Washington, said the company focuses most of its content moderation efforts on posts that can lead to real-world harm. His remarks came in response to a question about when the company chooses to remove abusive content aimed at women and the LGBTQ community.
"We work with experts, advocates in the LGBTQ community and elsewhere to set the policy right," Clegg said. He said the company strives to remove the most extreme cases of hate speech rather than taking down offensive comments.
Clegg, the former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom, has been tasked with improving Meta’s reputation in the United States and around the world.
Meta has come under enormous criticism from activists who say the platform allows hate speech against marginalized groups to proliferate across its platform. A recent report from advocacy group GLAAD found that Facebook is failing to remove harassment aimed at LGBTQ people.
Clegg also defended the right of politicians to speak freely online. He reaffirmed the company’s stated timetable to decide whether to restore former president Donald Trump’s account by early 2023. Facebook banned Trump from its platforms following the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill.
Clegg said the company is conferring with experts and third parties to make its final decision on Trump.
"You want to act proportionately and you want to be transparent about why you're doing this," Clegg said.
Meta’s reputation has taken a severe hit in Washington as lawmakers blast the company over its handling of election misinformation, user data, harmful content, and children’s privacy. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company’s business has been struggling recently as well — Meta’s stock is down more than 50 percent this year. Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg warned last month that the company is facing one of the “worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history.”
Clegg pointed out that Meta's market cap has "declined quite sharply in recent months." Apple Inc. last year introduced new privacy features that reduce the ability of advertisers to target iPhone users, a change that Zuckerberg said would cost $10 billion in revenue.
Apple, under the guise of privacy, “is trying to kneecap competitors of Apple’s businesses,” Clegg said Thursday, referring to the feature that allows users to opt out of sharing their data with particular apps. The move by Apple has undermined the efficacy of Meta’s digital advertising, which is the core of its business.