German Chancellor Angela Merkel was an inspiration and “definitely a model for the world,” the 31-year-old multi-billionaire founder of the social network said.
“You need courage and humanity to grasp that there are people out there who need a home – and that to build a society in which no-one is excluded will be the best thing for the world in the end,” he went on.
The Facebook founder might find his comments less welcome at home in the USA than in Germany, where 1.1. million asylum seekers arrived last year.
In the USA, dozens of state governors said last year that they would resist plans from the federal government to take in 10,000 refugees from Syria, citing terrorism concerns.
President Barack Obama has called the governors' fears “hysterical”.
But Germany's at times difficult experience – including a wave of sexual assaults and petty crime by a mob largely made up of men of Middle Eastern or North African appearance in Cologne on New Year's Eve – has not helped the President's plans win favour with the American public.
200 to battle hate speech in Germany
Zuckerberg had to face up to German criticism, too, as many Facebook users in Germany have been flooding the network with anti-refugee comments up to and including threats of violence in recent months.
He has been under pressure to act on online hate since a brief meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the fringes of a UN gathering in New York in September 2015.
As well as the “town hall meeting” where he addressed leading German media figures on Friday, Zuckerberg's Berlin programme has also included a conversation with Peter Altmaier, Merkel's Chancellery chief and right-hand man on the refugee crisis.
Altmaier reminded the native New Yorker that because of its size and importance for many Germans, Facebook had a serious responsibility for the content it relays online.
“I'm optimistic that we can achieve a good result,” Altmaier said on Thursday.
“I don't think we've done a good enough job” on hate speech, Zuckerberg told the audience on Friday, adding that the company had now hired 200 extra people to moderate content posted in Germany – the first time he's set a concrete number.
But Zuckerberg said that Facebook bosses in Europe had hoped for a stronger fightback from opponents of hate speech – something repeatedly called for by public figures in Germany but that has so far had little impact.
“There is no place for hate speech on Facebook and in our community,” he insisted.