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Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday defended the social media company’s light regulation of speech and lack of fact checking on political advertising, while citing China’s censorship as a roadblock to operating in the country.

Facebook has been under fire in recent years for its lax approach to fake news reports, state-backed disinformation campaigns and violent content spread on its services, prompting calls for new regulations around the world.

In a speech at Georgetown University filled with references to the First Amendment and the fight for democracy, Zuckerberg stood his ground, saying social media had introduced transformative avenues for speech that should not be shut down.

“People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world. It is a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society,” he said.

Zuckerberg framed the company’s decisions around that concept, including its recent retreat from years of aggressive courtship of China, an obstacle to his vision of connecting the world’s population.

He attacked the rapidly growing Chinese-owned app TikTok, saying the short video platform censored political protest, including in the United States, a charge the company denies.

In leaked audio of an address to Facebook employees weeks earlier, Zuckerberg spoke about TikTok as a formidable competitor, calling it the first consumer internet product built by a Chinese tech giant to find global success, but did not mention its approach to speech.

Over the course of Facebook’s charm offensive, Zuckerberg met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, learned Mandarin and posted a photo of himself running through Tiananmen Square. Read more

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Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday defended the social media company’s light regulation of speech and lack of fact checking on political advertising, while citing China’s censorship as a roadblock to operating in the country.