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Well, many widely disseminated comments by Zuckerberg are a good start (the Holocaust Denial comment being the most recent).

https://www.recode.net/2018/7/18/17575156/mark-zuckerberg-in...

Although I think using Holocaust Deniers is a particularly poor choice for defending an open platform and every PR flack must have winced at the comment, I think Zuck's commentary is more nuanced. Unfortunately, you can't win when you discuss the Holocaust ... it's an automatic loss.

A separate passage in the Recode interview touches on the difficulty Facebook faces regulating speech; outside the USA there may be much less tolerance for extensive free speech rights (even in democracies) and inside the USA we have our own debates; I can't imagine how difficult it is to find the proper balance on Facebook:

***

Regulation, how much do you think is coming from if the Democrats get back in power? They’ve gotten rather hostile towards you and Google, it seems.

Well, I think you’re too focused on the U.S.

Okay, across the world. Do you see regulation being … Obviously, Europe is a place where there’s much more regulation happening and more activity. Do you see it-

The area that I think is most likely is content. So the U.S. has a very rich tradition of free speech; it is written into the Constitution, free speech, so here, we have a very strong allergic reaction to trying to regulate that. But in almost every other country in the world, while people generally want as much expression as possible, there’s some notion that something else might be more important than speech; so preventing hate or-


***

Facebook is a commercial enterprise so it has much wider discretion to regulate speech or behavior on its site (similar in some ways to the power the NFL has to facilitate or punish Anthem protestors). Ultimately, I believe the degree of free speech will be dictated by Facebook platform advertisers who themselves will be influenced by the wider public and governments.

And then there's that conference call, for which the only logical explanation is that it was delivered from an alternate universe.

I read the same call and although I wished the CFO focused less on foreign currency and more on capital expenditures I thought it quite reasonable. There's a transition going on due to 'Stories'; management doesn't exactly know how it's going to play out; user growth is occurring in regions with less immediate monetization capability; at the end of the day Facebook may have TREMENDOUS operating margins or it may have FANTASTIC operating margins.

Facebook as a potential investment reminds me of the MA/V controversy a number of years ago when grand predictions of European regulation and lawsuits and retailer backlash knocked it for a loop.

ET
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