Mark Zuckerberg has turned to the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal to defend Facebook’s business practices.
In a column published Thursday, the 34-year-old billionaire technology executive laid out what he said were the “facts about Facebook,” explaining “the principles of how we operate” and what he said were the “clear benefits” of Facebook’s ad-supported, data-hungry business model for users and businesses.
Zuckerberg says he wants to correct some misunderstandings
The column dismisses what Zuckerberg says are numerous misunderstandings about how Facebook operates. “We don’t sell people’s data, even though it’s often reported that we do,” he wrote. Facebook also doesn’t deliberately share so-called clickbait (“it’s not what people want”) or deliberately leave harmful content up to drive up engagement (“advertisers don’t want their brands anywhere near it”), the chief executive wrote.
The op-ed piece comes after months of intense scrutiny over how Facebook uses (and misuses) users’ data, among other scandals, and shows how Facebook is attempting to bolster support from investors and the general public.
Zuckerberg’s choice of The Journal marks a departure from his standard practice of speaking to users directly through his personal Facebook page (as he’s done to address issues from planned content-moderation reforms to leaked emails about data policies) and reflects the pressure on the company as it comes under intense regulatory scrutiny.
The Journal is a premium, business-focused newspaper with an influential audience that includes institutional investors and politicians. It’s hardly the most effective medium for getting out a message to the general public — it’s behind an expensive paywall, while Zuckerberg owns a social network with almost 2.3 billion monthly active users — and as such, the column indicates Facebook’s communications team is trying to get a positive, undiluted case for Facebook in front of important eyeballs.