Post Reports

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg struggles to balance truth and free speech

Tony Romm examines what Facebook sees as its role in policing speech ahead the 2020 election. Jenna Portnoy and Paul Kane recount the life and legacy of Rep. Elijah Cummings. And Simon Denyer on the cultural tradition behind Japan’s dolphin hunt.
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Post Reports is the premier daily podcast from The Washington Post. Unparalleled reporting. Expert insight. Clear analysis. Every weekday afternoon.

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Facebook’s approach to political speech comes under fire
On Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech at Georgetown University about his vision for free speech and expression in the digital age – taking a stance that many Democrats see as dangerous.

“People worry, and I worry deeply, too, about an erosion of truth,” Zuckerberg told tech policy reporter Tony Romm ahead of the speech. “At the same time, I don’t think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true.”

Zuckerberg has come under fire in recent months for allowing politicians to post misrepresentations and lies to Facebook — a decision that has sparked criticism from Democrats ahead of 2020. 

“He’s been under pressure to take more action against that content,” Romm says. “But on the flip side, Zuckerberg has been pressured to ensure that Facebook is still the free-flow, free exchange that made the site what it’s become today, used by more than 2 billion people around the world.”

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Cummings, 68, remembered as ‘a leading tower of character and integrity’
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), best known for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House, his calming effect on anti-police riots in Baltimore and his forceful opposition to President Trump, died at a hospice center in Baltimore on Wednesday. He was 68. 

“There are a lot of powerful anecdotes and stories about how Chairman Cummings did his own thing, with little regard for what most of the caucus thought was best,” reporter Jenna Portnoy says. “He was certainly an ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but he voted his conscience.”

Congressional reporter Paul Kane says it’s not yet clear who will succeed Cummings as the head of the House Oversight Committee, which has a big role to play in the ongoing Trump impeachment inquiry. 

“There is a generation of members of the Congressional Black Caucus who have lived lives that are really just heroic in a way,“ Kane says. “Those voices are powerful. They just have a different level of moral clarity, moral authority. And I don’t know who those next leaders will be.” 

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A battle between local traditions and global outrage in Japan
Dolphins captured by fishermen from Taiji, Japan, have supplied aquariums across the world for decades – in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Thailand, Russia and elsewhere. They’ve been purchased by the U.S. Navy for mine detection and other tasks, fueling the region’s economy in a way that the slaughter of dolphins for meat doesn’t match. 

But in 2015, public outcry after the release of a documentary about Taiji’s dolphin hunt led the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums to prohibit its members from acquiring dolphins captured by drive hunts such as Taiji’s and brought foreigners to Japan to protest the island’s cultural traditions.

Tokyo bureau chief Simon Denyer visited Taiji at the beginning of the hunting season. 

“ ‘Setu’ is a common surname in Taiji that refers to the harpoon in the whaling boat,” Denyer said. “These people don’t want to give up a tradition which their ancestors have been carrying for a long time.”

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About Post Reports

Post Reports is the premier daily podcast from The Washington Post. Unparalleled reporting. Expert insight. Clear analysis. Every weekday afternoon.