What Zuckerberg would say to George Soros

In an exclusive interview, Mark Zuckerberg tells CNN's Laurie Segall what he's learned after hiring the controversial PR firm Definers.

Posted: Nov 21, 2018 3:48 PM
Updated: Nov 21, 2018 3:48 PM

After spending much of this year apologizing for Facebook's many missteps, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was defiant in an exclusive interview with CNN Business on Tuesday.

Zuckerberg resisted growing calls for changes to Facebook's C-suite, reiterated Facebook's potential as a force for good, and pushed back at some of the unrelenting critical coverage of his company after a year of negative headlines about fake news, election meddling and privacy concerns.

"A lot of the criticism around the biggest issues has been fair, but I do think that if we are going to be real, there is this bigger picture as well, which is that we have a different world view than some of the folks who are covering us," Zuckerberg told CNN Business' Laurie Segall at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

"There are big issues, and I'm not trying to say that there aren't," he said. "But I do think that sometimes, you can get the flavor from some of the coverage that that's all there is, and I don't think that that's right either."

The interview follows renewed criticism of Zuckerberg and Facebook after a New York Times investigation last week suggested the company had attempted to ignore and conceal Russian interference on its platform. The Times also reported that Facebook had hired a public relations firm that dug up dirt on its competitors.

Zuckerberg was more pointed when addressing the Times report specifically. "It is not clear to me at all that the report is right," he said. "A lot of the things that were in that report, we talked to the reporters ahead of time and told them that from everything that we'd seen, that wasn't true and they chose to print it anyway."

In one exchange, Zuckerberg addressed an assertion in the Times story about why Facebook's executives decided not to remove a particularly controversial 2015 post from then presidential candidate Donald Trump about Muslim immigration.

When asked if the decision was motivated by a desire to appease political leaders, Zuckerberg flatly said no. "I think it's very important that people have the opportunity to hear from what political leaders are saying," he said. Facebook's content policies give "special deference" to newsworthy content, he said. "I think we did the right thing there."

A spokesperson for the Times previously defended the article in a statement after Facebook disputed the report: "Our story is accurate and we stand by it. The monthslong investigation by a team of reporters was based on interviews with more than 50 sources including current and former Facebook executives and other employees, lawmakers and government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members."

Zuckerberg has reportedly been even more blunt in his assessment inside the company. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Zuckerberg told employees that recent coverage of Facebook is "bullshit."

Even before the Times investigation, Zuckerberg and Facebook struggled to move past a series of crises, including Russian election meddling, the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and a massive security breach impacting tens of millions of users.

Facebook stock has plummeted 40% from its all-time high in July as investors worry about the long-term privacy backlash and the company's warnings that its ad sales machine could slow as it "puts privacy first."

Yet, Zuckerberg implied that little is likely to change at the very top of the company anytime soon. When asked if he would consider stepping down as Facebook's chairman, Zuckerberg said, "that's not the plan." He also threw his support behind his No. 2, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, despite criticism of her role in handling Facebook's recent crises.

"Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts for a lot of the biggest issues that we have," Zuckerberg told CNN Business. "She's been an important partner to me for ten years. I'm really proud of the work that we've done together and I hope that we work together for decades more to come."

For years, Zuckerberg preached the importance of Facebook's efforts to connect the world. On Tuesday, he doubled down on the benefits of that mission despite revelations over the past year about the dark sides of the platform he built in a dorm room when he was 19 years old.

"I think the world will keep moving in this direction. More people will keep on getting a voice. I think that that's good," Zuckerberg said. "There are certainly going to be issues that we need to work through over time, but I think that while we are doing that, we can't lose sight of all of the really positive things that are happening here as well."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 63444

Reported Deaths: 1804
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5329110
DeSoto338727
Madison232460
Harrison222833
Rankin216830
Jackson206338
Jones180457
Forrest165353
Washington152433
Lauderdale135488
Lee127430
Neshoba123288
Lamar114613
Oktibbeha106036
Lowndes99932
Bolivar98732
Warren97630
Scott96219
Panola93611
Sunflower92623
Copiah92426
Lafayette88512
Leflore86660
Holmes85148
Pike84632
Grenada81621
Yazoo79311
Leake77125
Lincoln75641
Pontotoc7527
Wayne73621
Simpson72328
Monroe71650
Coahoma67710
Tate66524
Marion62519
Covington60112
Adams58725
Marshall5858
Winston58415
George5495
Union53814
Newton52611
Attala50224
Pearl River49637
Tallahatchie49610
Walthall46318
Chickasaw44319
Noxubee42611
Claiborne40113
Jasper3859
Smith38513
Calhoun3819
Clay37413
Alcorn3634
Prentiss3516
Hancock34414
Tishomingo3394
Itawamba31710
Tippah31612
Lawrence3155
Yalobusha31310
Clarke31025
Montgomery2973
Tunica2926
Humphreys27411
Carroll24811
Quitman2331
Greene23211
Kemper22715
Perry2267
Jefferson Davis2146
Amite2116
Webster20112
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18813
Sharkey1831
Stone1593
Benton1300
Choctaw1294
Franklin1172
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 91776

Reported Deaths: 1639
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
Lee251940
Morgan224315
Etowah195728
DeKalb171813
Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
St. Clair123612
Limestone120813
Franklin120620
Cullman115711
Colbert110712
Lauderdale109512
Autauga103020
Escambia97915
Talladega92713
Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
Covington71520
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
Bibb3813
Conecuh37210
Pickens3719
Sumter35918
Lawrence3240
Washington31412
Macon31113
Crenshaw2973
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2477
Henry2463
Greene24511
Geneva2420
Clay2235
Lamar2032
Fayette1765
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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