Zuckerberg: Yes, Facebook kept Hunter Biden's laptop under wraps

Also: Smiling, eye tracking, and general 'social presence' baked into Project Cambria

Facebook limited the visibility of the New York Post's story about Hunter Biden's laptop on the social media platform while it was being fact-checked after receiving warnings from the FBI of disinformation campaigns, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the Joe Rogan Experience on Thursday.

Zuckerberg took to the former Fear Factor host's podcast – one of the most popular in the world – where he discussed virtual reality, content moderation, and the polarization of America for nearly three hours.

The Meta CEO said the FBI approached the social media company just prior to the 2020 US presidential election to inform it of "some kind of dump," similar to 2016 pre-election propaganda, and warned it to be on "high alert."

He then detailed how Meta suppressed the story from appearing in user feeds on the grounds of it being potential misinformation, while third-party fact-checkers determined its truthfulness. "I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was true or false. The distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people are still allowed to share it, so you can still share it. You could still consume it," said Zuck.

"Basically the ranking and newsfeed was a little bit less, so fewer people saw it than would have otherwise," added the CEO. He said he could not recall by what percentage its visibility was reduced, but called it "meaningful."

Zuckerberg clarified there was a distinct difference between Facebook's content moderation strategy and Twitter's.

"Our protocol is different than Twitter's. What Twitter did is they said you can't share this at all. We didn't do that."

Here's a clip of that discussion:

While the laptop was indeed abandoned at a repair shop, there is no public indication the laptop holds strong, unaltered evidence of any wrongdoing or controversy.

While on the podcast, Zuck also revealed details of Meta's Project Cambria, including that it would be released in October 2022.

First teased in October 2021, the next-gen immersive VR headset will be kitted out with sensors, including eye-tracking that improve the user's non-verbal communication, or what Zuck calls "social presence."

The CEO said that the tech would also be able to portray a smile or a frown to other users, a feature that might come in handy for someone often accused of being a bit too robotic.

The CEO's tendency to hang out in the uncanny valley was also up for discussion on Thursday.

"I don't like the way you sip water though," said Rogan of Zuckerberg's 2021 Congress appearance. "You were sipping water like a robot."

"The Senate testimony is not exactly an environment that is set up to accentuate the humanity of the subject," Mr Zuckerberg said.

The head of Meta also revealed that although the company is moving forward in its metaverse goals, he does ultimately see the value of in-person interaction, and feels that will never be entirely replaced with technology.

Zuckerberg then dropped his biggest confession of the three hours. "I see people everyday," confided the CEO enthusiastically. ®

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