Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urged world leaders meeting in
Peru on Saturday to help get more people online as a way to improve global living
standards while separately announcing new measures to cut down on fake news
stories on the social network that some suggest could have helped sway the US
The Facebook founder took on the role of an evangelist for
“connectivity” as he spoke at an Asian-Pacific trade summit,
lamenting that half the world has no access to the online world and is being
deprived of its economic potential as well as advances in science, education
He urged leaders to work with his company and others to
close that gap.
“If we can connect the 4 billion people who aren’t
connected we can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty,”
Zuckerberg said as he addressed business and government leaders at the
21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.
But as he was promoting the benefits of the online world in
the speech, he took to his Facebook page to address one of the downsides of the
internet: the rapid dissemination of bogus news stories on social networks.
Zuckerberg said in a post that his company was taking
measures to curb what he said was a “relatively small” percentage of
deliberately false stories.
The measures include developing new tools to detect and
classify “misinformation” and to make it easier for users to report
He said the company also is looking into the possibility of
working with established fact-checking organisations to evaluate content and
into the feasibility of warning labels for stories flagged as false.
Critics have complained that a surge of fake news stories on
Facebook may have swayed some voters to back President-elect Donald Trump.
The company said on Monday that it was clarifying
its advertising policy to emphasise that it won’t display ads thus cutting
revenue, for sites that run information that is “illegal, misleading or
deceptive, which includes fake news.”
That followed a similar step by Google, which acknowledged
that it had let a false article about the election results slip into its list
of recommended news stories.
“The bottom line is: we take misinformation
seriously,” the Facebook CEO said in his post. “Our goal is to
connect people with the stories they find most meaningful, and we know people
want accurate information.
It is a sensitive issue for a company that does not want to
censor content such as legitimate political satire that some people find
offensive. Facebook sees itself not as a traditional publisher, but as a facilitator
of global communication.
It was that lofty vision of the company that was on display
as Zuckerberg spoke at the APEC forum.
He described Facebook efforts in artificial intelligence
programmes that could lead to advancements in medicine and education, as well
as a high-altitude solar-powered drone, still in the development stage, that
could provide online access to places with none.