Mark Zuckerberg wants you to know hes trying his damnedest to fix Facebook before it breaks democracy. Tonight he posted a 3,260-word battle plan for fighting election interference. Amidst drilling through Facebooks strategy and progress, he slips in several notable passages revealing his own philosophy. Zuckerberg has cast off his premature skepticism and is ready to command the troops. He sees Facebooks real identity policy as a powerful weapon for truth other social networks lack, but that would be weakened if Instagram and WhatsApp were split off by regulators. Hes done with the finger-pointing and wants everyone to work together on solutions. And hes adopted a touch of cynicism that could open his eyes and help him predict how people will misuse his creation. Here are the most important parts of Zuckerbergs security manifesto: Zuckerberg embraces his war-time tactician roleWhile we want to move quickly when we identify a threat, its also important to wait until we uncover as much of the network as we can before we take accounts down to avoid tipping off our adversaries, who would otherwise take extra steps to cover their remaining tracks. And ideally, we time these takedowns to cause the maximum disruption to their operations. The fury he unleashed on Google+, Snapchat, and Facebooks IPO-killer is now aimed at election attackersThese are incredibly complex and important problems, and this has been an intense year. I am bringing the same focus and rigor to addressing these issues that Ive brought to previous product challenges like shifting our services to mobile. Balancing free speech and security is complicated and expensiveThese issues are even harder because people dont agree on what a good outcome looks like, or what tradeoffs are acceptable to make. When it comes to free expression, thoughtful people come to different conclusions about the right balances. When it comes to implementing a solution, certainly some investors disagree with my approach to invest so much in security. Putting Twitter and YouTube on blast for allowing pseudonymity… One advantage Facebook has is that we have a principle that you must use your real identity. This means we have a clear notion of whats an authentic account. This is harder with services like Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube, iMessage, or any other service where you dont need to provide your real identity. … While making an argument for why the Internet is more secure if Facebook isnt broken upFortunately, our systems are shared, so when we find bad actors on Facebook, we can also remove accounts linked to them on Instagram and WhatsApp as well. And where we can share information with other companies, we can also help them remove fake accounts too. Political ads arent a business, theyre supposedly a moral dutyWhen deciding on this policy, we also discussed whether it would be better to ban political ads altogether. Initially, this seemed simple and attractive. But we decided against it — not due to money, as this new verification process is costly and so we no longer make any meaningful profit on political ads — but because we believe in giving people a voice. We didnt want to take away an important tool many groups use to engage in the political process. Zuckerberg overruled staff to allow academic research on FacebookAs a result of these controversies [like Cambridge Analytica] , there was considerable concern amongst Facebook employees about allowing researchers to access data. Ultimately, I decided that the benefits of enabling this kind of academic research outweigh the risks. But we are dedicating significant resources to ensuring this research is conducted in a way that respects peoples privacy and meets the highest ethical standards. Calling on law enforcement to step upThere are certain critical signals that only law enforcement has access to, like money flows. For example, our systems make it significantly harder to set up fake accounts or buy political ads from outside the country. But it would still be very difficult without additional intelligence for Facebook or others to figure out if a foreign adversary had set up a company in the US, wired money to it, and then registered an authentic account on our services and bought ads from the US.Instead of minimizing their own blame, the major players must unite forcesPreventing election interference is bigger than any single organization. Its now clear that everyone — governments, tech companies, and independent experts such as the Atlantic Council — need to do a better job sharing the signals and information they have to prevent abuse . . . The last point Ill make is that were all in this together. The definition of success is that we stop cyberattacks and coordinated information operations before they can cause harm. The end of Zuckerbergs utopic idealismOne of the important lessons Ive learned is that when you build services that connect billions of people across countries and cultures, youre going to see all of the good humanity is capable of, and youre also going to see people try to abuse those services in every way possible.
The Facebook CEO wants tech rivals and law enforcement to chip in ahead of the midterms. Just days after his op-ed in The Washington Post, Mark Zuckerberg has published another lengthy note titled 'Preparing for Elections,' this time via Facebook. In it the Facebook CEO describes his platform's removal of fake accounts ahead of elections in France, Germany, Alabama, Mexico, and Brazil -- along with its takedown of foreign influence campaigns from Russia and Iran targeting the US, UK, and Middle East. Despite clocking in at an epic 3,000 words, the note is essentially a retread of his past statements and Facebook's already announced security updates. He even repeats his election interference is an "arms race" rallying cry. But its timing is significant: the midterms are fast approaching, during which Congress will be keeping a close eye on the world's biggest social network. And Zuckerberg's message to US lawmakers here is "[Facebook] wasn't prepared enough in 2016, [is] better prepared now, will need cooperation from all angles to do better." The stakeholders, claims Zuckerberg, are governments, tech companies ( Reddit, Twitter, and Instagram have fallen prey to misinformation campaigns too), and independent experts. Days earlier in The Washington Post, he'd called for closer ties between the public and private sectors -- and is now also asking for cooperation with intelligence agencies and law enforcement to help track "money flows" from "foreign adversaries." "Traditional cyberattacks remain a big problem for everyone, and many democracies are at risk of attacks on critical election infrastructure like voting machines," writes Zuckerberg. "The more we can share intelligence, the better prepared each organization will be." Yes we've heard it all before, and it's now starting to sound like an information campaign of its own -- whether its aimed at governments, the public, or Facebook's partners (or all three).