Zuckerberg defends Facebook policies, invokes First Amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke to an assembly of students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Thursday.

Dressed in his usual all-black wardrobe, Zuckerberg started off his remarks with an acknowledgment of the death of Elijah Cummings, the long-time Democratic congressman and activist. Zuckerberg noted that “we have lost an icon.”

He went on to talk about the early days of Facebook and how the political and cultural climate in America has changed since then.

He stated, “People no longer have to rely on traditional gatekeepers in politics or media to make their voices heard, and that has important consequences. I understand the concerns about how tech platforms have centralized power, but I actually believe the much bigger story is how much these platforms have decentralized power by putting it directly into people’s hands. It’s part of this amazing expansion of voice through law, culture and technology.”

Zuckerberg addressed much of his speech to the idea of free expression, and his ideas around the importance of giving everyone a voice.

“Some people believe giving more people a voice is driving division rather than bringing us together,” he said. “More people across the spectrum believe that achieving the political outcomes they think matter is more important than every person having a voice. I think that’s dangerous.”

Zuckerberg said, “We’re at another cross-roads. We can continue to stand for free expression, understanding its messiness, but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us. Or we can decide the cost is simply too great. I’m here today because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.”

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