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Facebook and Google 'get paid best when people are emotional,' says investor Roger McNamee

  • Facebook was recently found to sell ads targeting users who expressed extremist views.
  • Investor Roger McNamee said fear and anger promote content sharing.
  • "Facebook and Google in particular take the position that they're not responsible or accountable for anything that happens on their platform," he said.
Roger McNamee
Mark Neuling | CNBC
Roger McNamee

The pressure on Facebook to better monitor content on its platform isn't letting up.

And at least one investor thinks the issues that have recently come to light are just a "small piece of the problem."

"The problem is the algorithms are set up now," Elevation Partners co-founder Roger McNamee told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" Wednesday.

"They get paid best when people are emotional. When they're either afraid or angry, that's what causes a lot of sharing."

A ProPublica investigation last week found that Facebook sold ads targeting users who had expressed anti-Semitic views. The discovery came just days after Facebook announced it had sold ads to Russian operatives targeting Facebook users who expressed extremist views.

"Facebook and Google in particular take the position that they're not responsible or accountable for anything that happens on their platform," McNamee said. "There's a need for a conversation about exactly what the limits ought to be."

The EU is eyeing legislation that would require tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter to more closely regulate content. The most recent proposal, though not yet legally binding, suggests the firms take down extremist content within two hours of posting.

The European Commission is leading the effort to establish better regulations for online content. The FTC, the U.S. agency tasked with overseeing digital content, has remained largely quiet in recent weeks.