Mark Zuckerberg admits he can be 'robotic' – but he's working on it

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has admitted in an interview that he knows he comes across as ‘robotic’ and insists he is working to change that.

But he also acknowledges that he’s ‘been in the public eye since I was 19’ and isn’t worried about what gets said about him.

‘A lot of my personal experience has been that people say a lot of false things about you,’ he told NBC in the US.

‘Look, historically I’ve had a very hard time expressing myself. I just come across as robotic.

‘This is one of the things that in growing up I need to get, I need to get better at in running this company.’

The tech boss was fielding personal questions at the same time as discussing Facebook’s strategy for the upcoming 2020 US elections. He explained that while Facebook has historically been focused on technical-based intrusions (from hackers and suchlike) during these periods, they learned much from the 2016 election.

‘We continue to see their tactics are evolving,” Zuckerberg said.

‘Today, what we’re basically announcing is that we found a set of campaigns. They are highly sophisticated. They signal that these nation-states intend to be active in the upcoming election.

‘That we’ve been able to proactively identify them and take them down is somewhat of a signal that our systems are much more advanced now than they have been in the past.’

It’s not just the US elections that Facebook is watching out for, either.

The social network has said it will set up a dedicated operations centre if a UK general election is called, which will serve as an added layer of defence, monitoring and removing activity that breaks its rules faster than present.

From next week, adverts relating to social issues such as immigration, health and the environment will have to go through the same verification process as political adverts, which requires advertisers to share who they are and where they live.

Posts reported by Facebook’s UK fact-checking partner Full Fact found to contain fake news will also feature more prominent labelling. But writing in the Daily Telegraph, Facebook’s vice president of policy solutions, Richard Allan, said new rules for the era of digital campaigning need to be decided by Parliament and regulators.

‘While we are taking a number of steps, there are many areas where it’s simply not appropriate for a private company like Facebook to be setting the rules of the game or calling the shots,’ he explained.

‘For instance, we do not believe it should be our role to fact check or judge the veracity of what politicians say – not least since political speech is heavily scrutinised by the media and our democratic processes.’

He continued: ‘UK electoral law needs to be brought into the 21st century to give clarity to everyone – political parties, candidates and the platforms they use to promote their campaigns. The law may not be changed before Britain goes to the polls again, but we are determined to play our part in protecting elections from interference by making our platform more secure and political advertising more transparent.’

The move is the latest balancing act for Facebook, as it seeks to champion freedom of speech against a backdrop of misinformation campaigns.

On Monday, it took down more so-called co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour from Iran and Russia, targeting the US, North Africa and Latin America.

From next month, Facebook said it will start labelling media outlets that are wholly or partially under the editorial control of their government, as state-controlled media.

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