Mark Zuckerberg U-Turns, Vows to 'Stand Up for Free Expression' on Facebook
CEO says users will be able to 'post want they want' after pressure to ramp up censorship
Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook is scrapping its spiraling censorship policies as he vows to "stand up for free expression" on the platform, marking a major U-turn for the company.
Facebook has come under increasing scrutiny over recent years, with users accusing the company of censoring their posts and infringing their rights to free speech.
In a surprise move, Zuckerberg has now declared that Facebook is going to start allowing people to "post what they want" in spite of the fact it will "p*ss off a lot of people."
The 35-year-old CEO made the pledge on Friday during a fiery appearance at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit in Utah.
Speaking to the audience, Zuckerberg said Facebook had previously tried to resist moves that would be branded as "too offensive," but admitted he now believes his company is being pressured to partake in "excessive censorship."
"Increasingly we're getting called to censor a lot of different kinds of content that makes me really uncomfortable," he revealed.
"We're going to take down the content that's really harmful, but the line needs to be held at some point," Zuckerberg added.
The Facebook founder went on to bemoan: "It kind of feels like the list of things that you're not allowed to say socially keeps on growing, and I'm not really okay with that."
He then declared: "This is the new approach [free expression], and I think it's going to p**s off a lot of people.
"But frankly the old approach was p**sing off a lot of people too, so let's try something different."
KSL 5 TV shared the entirety of Zuckerberg's speech on its own Facebook page.
Zuckerberg has been in the hot seat in recent months for refusing to ban political ads from Facebook - despite the fact that fellow social media giant Twitter declared that they would stop sharing political advertisements.
The tech guru has also stated that Facebook will not fact-check political ads, resulting in a highly publicized showdown on Capitol Hill with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
During an awkward questioning, Ocasio-Cortez falsely claimed that Zuckerberg was supporting "white supremacy" by not fact-checking Republican campaign ads on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg's defiant appearance at the Utah tech summit came after Facebook disappointed Wall Street's expectations of fourth-quarter growth earlier this week.
The results, revealed on Wednesday, raised concerns that Facebook's days of astronomical growth were firmly in the rearview mirror, and shares of the world's biggest social network dropped 7.2 per cent in extended trading.
Facebook reported its slowest-ever revenue growth for the fourth quarter, at 25 percent.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the company pledged better protections for Facebook users after the social media giant agreed to pay a $550 million settlement Wednesday over a lawsuit that claimed it illegally collected millions of users' biometric data without their consent.
Facebook did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, which requires court approval.
Zuckerberg has promised Facebook users privacy upgrades in light of the outcome of the suit, as the founder seeks to address the ongoing privacy concerns that have dogged the social media company.