Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes the keynote speech at F8, Facebook's developer conference, in San Jose. File picture: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Washington - Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday claimed the US government's weak response to Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election inspired other state actors to do the same.

"As a private company, we don't have the tools to make the Russian government stop. We can defend as best as we can, but our government is the one that has the tools to apply pressure to Russia, not us," Zuckerberg said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado.

"After 2016, when the government didn't take any kind of counter-action, the signal that was sent to the world was that we are open for business," the Facebook founder said, adding that since then the company has seen "increased activity" from Iran and others.

"We've ramped up massively on the security side," Zuckerberg said, arguing that "there is very little that we can do on our own to change the incentives for nation states to act."

The Facebook founder also said that, while his company has taken steps to prevent state actors from interfering in elections around the world, deciding what is acceptable campaigning and what isn't shouldn't be down to a private company.

Facebook has been criticized for allowing Russian-backed trolls to post ads aimed at influencing the 2016 election, as well as over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal.

dpa