Facebook has 'too much power over speech' - Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook has "too much power over speech" and has called for regulators to set some ground rules.

In his first comments on how social media can be used to spread hateful content online since the Christchurch attacks two weeks ago, Zuckerberg doesn't specifically mention Christchurch or white supremacists.

Writing for the Washington Post, the billionaire chief executive of the world's most popular social network said he believes "a more active role for governments and regulators" is needed.

"Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree," he wrote. "I've come to believe that we shouldn't make so many important decisions about speech on our own."

Facebook and other social media companies have come under heavy criticism since the March 15 attacks, which left 50 people dead. The alleged killer livestreamed the attack on Facebook, and two days beforehand uploaded pictures of the weapons he used to Twitter.

Both sites have been accused in the weeks since then of failing to remove clearly hateful and violent content.

Last week Facebook said it would crack down on white nationalist and separatist content, treating it the same as white supremacist content, which was already supposedly banned. On Saturday chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said they'd also consider restricting use of the Facebook Live service.

The NZ Privacy Commissioner said that response was too little, too late.

Zuckerberg said in the Post while internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on their own sites, there are "dozens of different sharing services - all with their own policies and processes".

"One idea is for third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and to measure companies against those standards. Regulation could set baselines for what's prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum."

Elsewhere in the piece, Zuckerberg called for legislation to be updated to tackle the threat of foreign actors interfering in elections, as happened in the US in 2016; privacy and data protection laws to be aligned to that recently adopted by the EU; and common standards for data portability between websites.

"By updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what's best about it - the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things - while also protecting society from broader harms.