Highlights from Mark Zuckerberg’s Town-Hall Q&A in Bogotá

Why did Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg address the terrorist attack on the Paris offices of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo earlier this month, but not discuss similar events from other parts of the world? That was just one of the questions he fielded during his first international town-hall question and answer session, which was held Wednesday at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia.

Why did Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg address the terrorist attack on the Paris offices of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo earlier this month, but not discuss similar events from other parts of the world? That was just one of the questions he fielded during his first international town-hall question and answer session, which was held Wednesday at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia.

Zuckerberg has held two previous town-hall Q&A sessions, Dec. 11 and Nov. 6, both at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

A video of the full Q&A session is available here and embedded below, and highlights follow.

On the question of why Zuckerberg spoke out about the Charlie Hebdo attack, he said:

All of these terrorist events are terrible, and I don’t think it should take me or anyone else speaking on that to be very clear globally that all of these different attacks going on around the world are just really bad, terrible and horrible for different societies, horrible for peace in the world. We really need to do whatever we can as a society to try to prevent that.

There are certain topics that I speak about, mostly things that are related to Facebook’s mission in some capacity and our efforts to connect the world and give everyone a voice. That’s why these attacks in France were especially relevant, I thought, for me to speak about, because it wasn’t just a terrorist attack about just trying to do some damage and make people afraid and hurt people: This was specifically about people’s freedom of expression and ability to say what they want. This specific attack was an attack to silence someone who had said something that offended someone else.

A lot of what Facebook is doing in the world is we’re trying to connect the world and we’re trying to give everyone a voice. There are lots of different things that can stand in the way of you having a voice and the freedom to express whatever you want. A government can pass a law blocking you from saying something. You can just not have the tools that you need in order to express what you want — if you don’t have the Internet, then it’s hard to post on the Internet, obviously. If you don’t have a good camera, it’s hard to post photos, even if you technically have the right to do so.

Even if the laws allow you to share something and you have the tools to do so, if we live in a society of fear, where if you then exercise your right and your ability to speak, and you live in fear that you’re going to get hurt because some extremist somewhere is going to not like what you say and might take that out on you and hurt you or kill you or your family, then that’s not freedom of expression, either.

And that really gets to the core of what Facebook and the Internet are, I think, and what we’re all here to do. We really want to stand up and try to make it so that everyone can have as much of a voice as possible. There are limits and restrictions on these things, but across the board, what we generally are always trying to fight for is to have as many people share as much as they want.

This event just seemed like an event where people needed to come together not only to fight back against terrorism — which is the response, I think, every time there’s a terrorist attack anywhere in the world — but also to stand up for giving everyone in the world a voice and people’s right to give as many people as possible the ability to share as many things as possible.