Yesterday, Kara Swisher, one of our finest tech journalists, published her extensive interview with Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a terrific and terrifying read for many reasons, but one nugget stands out.
At one point in the conversation, Swisher asked Zuckerberg how Facebook intends to handle those who abuse its platform to disseminate false information and promote outlandish lies. Sounding like one of his status updates, Zuckerberg said that it was really complicated and subject to a broad debate. Swisher pressed on: Would Facebook permit someone to post an assertion that the school shooting in Sandy Hook never happened? Or would that, too, be subject to a broad debate? Zuckerberg didn’t really answer. Instead, he talked about the Holocaust.
“I’m Jewish,” he said, “and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong, but I think …”
Swisher interrupted. “In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be,” she said, “but go ahead.” Zuckerberg did.
“It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent,” he said. “I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do. I’m sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too.”
Even if you aren’t upset about all that Facebook has done to coarsen our civic discourse, flatten our emotions, taint our political process, and devour our journalistic institutions, perhaps you’ll be displeased to learn that its boss believes that denying the systemic and exhaustively documented murder of 6 million Jews could simply be the sort of honest mistake people just happen to make from time to time. You can read the entire interview here, and take comfort that it’s not only the genocides of yesteryear that fail to move Zuckerberg: When asked how he felt about the massacres in Myanmar, he replied with an algorithmic disquisition about platforms. And if you’re wondering what vision our tech-bro oligarchs have for humanity, look no further than this revolting example of amoral obliviousness.