Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook working to curb violent content

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday at his company's annual developers conference that his network has a responsibility to curb violent content. File Photo courtesy of Yonhap/UPI

April 18 (UPI) — On the same day a criminal fugitive dubbed the “Facebook killer” was cornered in Pennsylvania, the social media giant’s founder on Tuesday addressed his company’s responsibility in managing hateful or violent content online.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at the company’s eighth annual developer’s conference, again expressed condolences for the family of Robert Godwin, Sr., a 74-year-old man who was gunned down Sunday in Cleveland — an apparent random homicide that was immediately posted to the killer’s Facebook page.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr.,” he said Tuesday at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters. “We have a lot of work, and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”

The billionaire technologist and philanthropist told USA Today last week that his company has a responsibility to safeguard users as much as possible online.

“We have a responsibility to continue to get better at making sure we are not a tool for spreading [hate],” he said.

Numerous criminal acts have intersected with the social media network in recent years — a trend Zuckerberg said has to be dealt with.

“Those are all against our community standards. They don’t belong there,” he said.

Shortly before Tuesday’s event, Cleveland fugitive Steve W. Stephens was cornered by police in Erie, Pa., and killed himself with a shot to the head in his car.

Facebook has taken various criticisms in recent years related to content screening. The company has said it has thousands of people who review postings, which, when flagged, are typically reviewed within 24 hours.

At last year’s event, Zuckerberg sounded a similar chord about making Facebook a family-friendly network and taking responsibility for protecting its users.

“As I look around the world, I’m starting to see people and nations turning inward, against the idea of a connected world and a global community,” Zuckerberg said last April. “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ‘others.’ I hear them calling for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, for reducing trade, and in some cases even for cutting access to the Internet.”

Also Tuesday, Zuckerberg spoke about his vision for “augmented reality” and his company’s efforts to that end — an element he called “Act 2” for the company.

“We see something different,” he said. “We need an open platform where any developer in the world can build for augmented reality without having to first build a camera and get a lot of people to use it.”

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