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Published April 6, 2019


Vienna Richards

Mathias Döpfner is the CEO for Axel Springer, described online as Europe’s largest digital publishing house. He kickstarts my interest in this interview by getting straight to the reality facing investigative journalists in countries like Slovakia and Turkey. The dangers they face reporting on corruption. Death and imprisonment is a job hazard for investigative journalists in those parts of the world.

It’s a worthwhile hour to spend watching this interview between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Döpfner talking candidly about democracy, promoting quality journalism, curation, paid content, tackling consumer privacy concerns and data collection, principles for local journalism, and how much Facebook spends on safety and security. It runs in the billions.

The reality, as Dopfner says, is that some see Facebook as a threat to democracy. They explore the challenges facing ocal and global journalism, the role of Facebook and other social platforms, fake accounts, licensing content.

There’s a robust discussion about the very big topic of privacy, the issue of data privacy and collection, how long should data be around on Facebook and how should the data be used.

It’s hard to know whether you can take what Mark Zuckerberg says seriously about privacy given the way that Facebook operates with every user’s data. You can believe his words when he talks about giving people a voice which he sees as a positive for democracy.

Final Words in Interview: Mathias Döpfner
Thought-provoking is how I’d describe this interview. I leave the final words in this post to Dopfner, from this interview.

“I’m really worried about the general mechanics of world powers and the future of democracy. And I would be interested in how you see that.

“I truly think that we all take it for granted. That we see to which degree digitisation of our society and globalisation of our society have amplified and accelerated certain developments, have strengthened populists and autocrats.

“And if you look to the world leadership at the moment, the centrist democracies are weak or stumbling. The populists are on the rise. The autocrats from Russia to Turkey are very strong. .And the strongest are the dictators, China, with the help of AIS, conquering the world systematically with the new form of warfare, which is business.…They have done aggressive investments in Europe, all over the world…they are having an influence…I would just try to understand how much you are worried by the future of the values of the free West.

“Certainly having kids changes how you think about things…and just the events over the last few years…and all the different and negative ways that people try to abuse these products that we’ve become aware of, certainly have created a massive sense of ‘Wow we have a much bigger responsibility than we realised to make sure we minimise harm.’

“Everything from nation states trying to interfere in elections, to terrorism to people trying to spread hate speech, and divisive content, and cyper attacks to get at people’s private information..

“We are now spending more on safety and security as a company than the whole revenue of the company was when we went public a decade.

“…And make sure that diversity of content providers, of creator people, of creative industries, of publishers and journalists is going to remain and be strengthened.”


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