Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg continued his Washington tour on Wednesday, testifying and answering questions about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other issues from a House of Representatives committee.
The hearing, hosted by the Energy and Commerce Committee, wrapped up right around noon Pacific Time. Check back on sfchronicle.com for more coverage of Facebook!
11:58 a.m.: Rep. Greg Walden, the committee chairman, makes a joke about having Zuckerberg stick around for another round of questioning and wraps up by thanking the Facebook CEO.
11:52 a.m.: Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., asks if Zuckerberg could take down illegal drug ads faster if there were a $1 million per post per day penalty.
Zuckerberg apologizes if he miscommunicated his urgency about taking down ads and said the company is building tools to do so faster.
Rep. Cramer brings up bias and urges Zuckerberg to consider somewhere like Bismark, North Dakota, for an office location.
He says maybe Facebook should look for talent outside of Silicon Valley in other parts of the country.
Zuckerberg says most content reviewers are not in the Bay Area but are rather around the world.
Cramer and Zuckerberg wrap up by discussing choice in Internet service providers and social network applications.
11:48 a.m.: Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., says he’s been on Facebook since 2007 and calls it an “invaluable tool” for communicating with constituents.
Duncan says the two main issues are “user privacy and censorship.” Duncan offers to give Zuckerberg a copy of the Constitution, and asks Zuckerberg if he can have a community standard for free speech and religion modeled after the First Amendment.
Zuckerberg says terrorist speech is allowed under the First Amendment, and Facebook doesn’t want that. He says Facebook wants “the broadest spectrum of free speech we can.”
Zuckerberg says “we make a number of mistakes in content review” and he doesn’t think those are limited to one part of the political spectrum.
11:42 a.m.: Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., says, “When you get to me, you’re getting close to the end.” Carter is the second-most junior Republican member on the committee.
Carter asks Zuckerberg a series of questions about the opioid epidemic. “I ask you this because some of the other members have mentioned ads for fentanyl and other illegal drugs on the Internet,” Carter says, and asks Zuckerberg to send someone to an upcoming event to discuss the epidemic.
Carter brings up other issues like the ivory trade and movie piracy.
“We need your help with this,” Carter says. “Some members of the committee want the Internet monitored like a utility. I’m against that. … But we want a commitment from you … that you will help us with this.”
“You love America, we know that,” Carter says, asking Zuckerberg for a commitment to help.
11:38 a.m.: Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., asks what pieces of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation it makes sense to bring to the United States.
Zuckerberg says that there are parts of the GDPR that are good, that people have control that each piece of information is used and to be able to delete it when they want to.
He says that if technologies like facial recognition are overregulated, American companies like Facebook will lose ground to Chinese companies that are allowed to use such technologies.
Costello asks whether Facebook is a media company, or a publisher. Zuckerberg says content that Facebook funds, it’s fully responsible for.
11:34 a.m.: Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., says she’s “a daily Facebook user, much to my staff’s distress.”
She criticizes Zuckerberg for his professed lack of knowledge about various issues asked in the hearing: ”As CEO, you didn’t know some key facts.”
“You don’t even know all the kinds of information that Facebook is collecting from its own users,” Dingell says.
“Here is what I do know: You have trackers all over the Web,” Dingell says. She cites the Facebook Pixel, which allows for tracking even if users don’t see a Facebook Like button.
She asks how many Facebook Like buttons are installed on non-Facebook Web pages. Zuckerberg says he doesn’t know the answer but will follow up.
“When I hear that companies value our privacy, that is meant in monetary terms,” Dingell says, adding there “needs to be clear rules of the road” when it comes to consumer privacy.
11:30 a.m.: Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., quizzes Zuckerberg about privacy settings.
Zuckerberg says he thinks the settings when you sign into an app are “quite clear.”
Zuckerberg says that all of a user’s Facebook settings can be found in one place. But they’re also available where users are making decisions on what to post. For example, when people are going share a photo now, it should be in line in the relevant place, he says.
11:25 a.m.: Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., asks how Facebook can ensure that data’s not misused.
Zuckerberg says that would be difficult, since there are bad actors. “Every problem around security is sort of an arms race,” he says.
“The responsibility we have is growing with our scale,” Zuckerberg says.
Walberg says he’d prefer to have Facebook regulate itself.
11:20 a.m.: Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., starts off by noting how Zuckerberg has said Facebook does not sell data and that Cambridge Analytica happened because of a rogue developer.
Collins says he is “quite confident” that Zuckerberg is doing good and believes in treating all ideas equally.
“I don’t think we need more regulation now,” Collins says.
11:16 a.m. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., talks about how Facebook has helped small businesses in his community.
He also mentions concerns about censorship and notes that Diamond and Silk, the conservative bloggers, are from his district.
Hudson talks about how Zuckerberg visited Fort Bragg. He asks whether members of the armed services should be worried about their location or other data being exposed.
“The more input that we can get from the intelligence community, the more we can effectively do that work,” Zuckerberg says.
Hudson asks what standards Facebook uses to determines what is hate speech versus speech that people may disagree with.
“That is something that we struggle with continuously,” Zuckerberg says, adding Facebook has received criticism from the left and right. “It’s nuanced.”
11:12 a.m. Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., wonders if there should be more penalties tied to data protection.
Zuckerberg says that the question is not a business question.
“These issues are not getting the bottom-line attention that would have made them a priority for Facebook,” Peters said.
Zuckerberg says new regulations along the lines of those that recently took effect in the European Union are a “positive step” for the Internet.
11:07 a.m.: Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., asks a series of questions suggesting that it’s up to users, not Facebook, to protect their data.
“I’m from the school of thought that everything I do is open on the Internet,” says Mullin.
Zuckerberg says that Facebook collects information so that ads are relevant. He says that there is a setting where users can turn off Facebook from collecting data for ad targeting.
11:03 a.m.: Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., asks why Facebook didn’t notify the Federal Trade Commission about the 2015 Cambridge Analytica breach.
Zuckerberg says it was a mistake and that he wishes they had notified users and regulators.
“It just doesn’t seem like the FTC has the necessary tools” to protect consumer data and asks if Zuckerberg would be supportive of an organization offering guidelines such a digital consumer protection agency.
Zuckerberg says that that is an idea worth consideration. “The details on this really matter,” he says of regulation.
“There are a lot of holes in the system,” Ruiz says.
10:58 a.m.: We’re back in session with Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Indiana, who asks about takedowns of dangerous content, including an execution video posted by Islamic State supporters.
“I appreciate that no system is perfect, but this is just within a week,” she says, after giving a series of examples.
Zuckerberg says that Facebook has a counterterrorism team of 200 people, with capacity in 30 languages.
10:40 a.m.: The hearing is in recess.
10:33 a.m.: Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., says, “It seems like we’ve been here forever, don’t you think?” Reporter’s note: Actually it’s just been 3.5 hours.
Cardenas tells Zuckerberg that the “lanes in which you operate in are very wide and broad, unlike other industries.” He shows a chart of Facebook’s revenue growth.
Cardenas mentions that Cambridge Analytica’s acting CEO, Alexander Tayler, who replaced Alexander Nix, has stepped down. Politico reports that he is still with the company in his original role of chief data officer.
10:29 a.m.: Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, asks if Facebook and other social networks should be “ideologically neutral.” Zuckerberg says he believes Facebook should be a “platform” for all ideas.
10:25 a.m.: Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass. asks if advertisers use any nonpublic data that individuals would not think is public so that advertisers can target their ads.
Zuckerberg says if a business wants to market skis, Facebook shows their users who say they like skis on Facebook to see the ads, and adds that the targeting options for advertisers on Facebook is based on what users share.
“We may use metadata or other behaviors of what you shown you are interested in News Feed to make our system more relevant to you,” Zuckerberg says.
“While I applaud some of the reforms you are putting forward … your platform has become a mix of news, entertainment, social media that is up for manipulation,” Kennedy says.
10:19 a.m.: Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Indiana, asks about the persistent rumor that Facebook is listening to “verbal discussions” and targeting ads based on those discussions.
“If you’re not listening to us on the phone, who is, and do you have specific contracts with these companies” like Amazon to obtain data, Bucshon asks.
Zuckerberg says Facebook only uses the microphone on a smartphone when a user records a video.
Facebook has faced these rumors before; they are fueled by the spread of smart speakers made by companies like Google, Amazon and Apple.
“My understanding is that a lot of these cases like this are a coincidence,” Zuckerberg says. People might talk about something and then go on Google and do a search on the topic, which prompts targeted ads to appear, Zuckerberg says.
10:15 a.m.: Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., asks about Cambridge Analytica and whether data had been deleted. He is concerned that the data might be deleted before law enforcement can inspect it.
Zuckerberg says it has paused its audit in order to allow the U.K. government to conduct an investigation.
Schrader asks about Facebook’s ability to retract messages sent by Zuckerberg or other executives and whether that might interfere with law enforcement investigations. Zuckerberg says the company has a document retention policy, it deletes messages after a period of times, but retains anything “there’s a legal hold on.”
10:11 a.m.: Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., asks about Facemash, a site which allowed users to compare female Harvard students’ attractiveness. Zuckerberg says it was a “prank website” that had nothing to do with Facebook.
Long continues: “Congress is good at two things: doing nothing and overreacting. … We’re getting ready to overreact.”
Long asks about Diamond and Silk, the conservative bloggers who recently had Facebook posts taken down. Long asks how many conservative accounts and how many liberal accounts had been taken down.
“You’re the one to fix this,” Long tells Zuckerberg.
10:07 a.m.: Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa, says “Trust has been the issue today.”
“How are you going to follow through? How are we going to hold you accountable?” Loebsack asks.
Loebsack asks on behalf of “Brenda from Muscatine” how she can know that changes will happen.
Zuckerberg says some changes have already been put in place regarding data leakage through apps, and it’s investigating apps.
10:02 a.m.: Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, begins with a paean to American entrepreneurialism and says that America’s lack of “overregulation” allowed Facebook to get started in a dorm room.
“I’m a technology guy, I have two degrees in computer science, I’m a patent holder,” says Johnson. “A lot of the time, technology folks spend a lot of time thinking about what they can do and not enough on what they should do.”
Johnson asks about “faith-based” content and how content is filtered on Facebook.
“It’s a combination” of technical systems and humans, Zuckerberg says.
Johnson asks what Facebook does when it catches someone who makes a mistake in enforcement. “Every time a mistake like that is made, it’s a chip away from those trust and responsibility factors,” Johnson says.
Content reviewers’ performance is measured by their accuracy, Zuckerberg says.
“You ever fire anybody?” Johnson asks.
“We hire and fire people all the time,” Zuckerberg says.
9:58 a.m.: Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., thanks “Mr. Zuckerman” for his appearance at the hearing.
Clarke asks if Facebook’s lack of diversity was an issue in not detecting Russian election interference. Zuckerberg acknowledges diversity is important but doesn’t think it was an issue in that case.
Clarke asks for a timeline on Facebook’s verification program for political advertisers. “That will be in place for the next election,” Zuckerberg says.
9:53 a.m.: Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., urges Zuckerberg to do more about opioid ads.
Bilirakis says someone posted information about a constituent on his Facebook page, including the constituent’s voting record. His constituent tried to reach out to Facebook, but the offending content was still up and it wasn’t removed until Bilirakis’ office got involved.
“Why did it take a member of Congress to get a clear policy violation removed from Facebook?” he asks.
Zuckerberg says that the company made an enforcement mistake.
Bilirakis asks for a timeline on improvements but runs out of time before Zuckerberg can answer.
9:48 a.m.: Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., passes on questions from constituents: “Why should they trust you with their likes, their loves, their lives?”
9:44 a.m.: Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-W. Va., urges Zuckerberg to help with Internet access in his district. He then brings up fake news.
“Who decides what is misinformation?” Griffith asks. “My political opponents might post ‘Morgan Griffith is a bum,'” he says. “I think that’s fake news.” Laughter.
“Without weighing in on that specific example,” Zuckerberg starts, by talking about how Facebook is fighting fake news. Some fake-news posters are “economic spammers” just trying to make money, he says, giving the example of “Macedonian trolls.” Then there are “state actors,” which AI systems can detect. Then there’s misinformation, where Facebook is trying to work with fact-checkers to combat.
9:40 a.m.: Rep. Ben Lujan, D-New Mexico, asks if Facebook has detailed profiles on people who haven’t signed up for Facebook. Zuckerberg says it does collect data on people who do not have Facebook accounts for “security purposes.”
Lujan asks how many data points does Facebook has on each user, proposing the figure of 29,000 data points. Zuckerberg says he’s not sure.
9:35 a.m.: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., asks what personal data Facebook makes available to Russian security and other intelligence agencies.
Zuckerberg says that when Facebook has knowledge of imminent harm it will reach out to local law enforcement.
“In general we’re not in the business of providing data to the Russian government,” Zuckerberg says. “We don’t store any data in Russia.”
9:31 a.m.: Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., says, “We’re at the point where actions will speak much louder than words.” He says Congress bears responsibility as well for not doing more about these problems.
Welch asks if Zuckerberg believes that users have a right to control what companies collect on them. Zuckerberg says yes.
Welch asks if Zuckerberg if consumers should be able to easily place limits on personal data that companies collect and obtain. “That seems like a reasonable principle to me,” Zuckerberg says.
Welch asks if Zuckerberg believes the FTC or another governmental agency should be able to determine on a regular basis what is personal information to provide certainty for consumers and companies what information should be protected most tightly. Zuckerberg says this is an area where some regulation makes sense but didn’t commit on the details.
The one area where Zuckerberg doesn’t readily agree is a proposal to allow users to request that “inaccurate” data be removed. He says there may need to be some “debate” about that.
9:27 a.m.: Rep. David McKinley R-W.Va., asks if Facebook should allow illegal online pharmacies to sell drugs without a prescription. Zuckerberg says no. Rep. McKinley shows screenshots that he says show opioids being sold illegally on Facebook.
“America’s in the midst of one of the worst epidemics … but your platform is still being used to circumvent the law and allow people to buy highly addictive drugs without a prescription,” McKinley says.
Zuckerberg says there are things Facebook needs to do better policing on its service.
“Facebook is enabling an illegal activity, and in so doing, you are hurting people. Do you agree with that?” McKinley asks.
“The way content regulation works … is that people flag an issue for us and we review it,” Zuckerberg says.
“When are you going to take down these posts with illegal digital pharmacies?” McKinley says.
“When people report them to us, we take them down,” Zuckerberg says. “I agree that this is a terrible issue. Respectfully, when there are tens of billions of pieces of content, even 20,000 people can’t review it all. We need AI tools.”
9:22 a.m.: Rep. John McNerney, D-Stockton, asks if there is a place where users can download their information and browsing history that Facebook tracks.
Spoiler alert: There is.
Zuckerberg says he believes all the information Facebook has about a user is available through that download feature.
“We need to make sure there are regulations in place to give you the proper motivation to stay in line with data protection,” McNerney says.
McNerney asks if Facebook plans on changing its management structure to make privacy protection more of a priority.
“We have built a robust privacy program, we have a chief privacy officer,” Zuckerberg says.
9:17 a.m.: Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, starts off on a friendly note, but then asks about a 2012 Facebook experiment in which researchers deliberately manipulated users’ emotions. “How did you think this was a good idea?” Olson asks.
Zuckerberg says, “We want use of social media and social products to be good for people’s well being.” He adds that the company does research to improve what it provides users.
Olson, confusingly, asks how the Cambridge Analytica incident could have happened in 2015 given the thousands of content reviewers Facebook is hiring now, in 2018. Zuckerberg, reluctant to disclose the existence of Facebook’s time machine, corrects the congressman’s understanding of the timeline.
9:13 a.m.: Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., asks about “embeds” offered to the Clinton and Trump campaigns. Zuckerberg says that the company offers “sales support” and that the Trump campaign accepted that support. Sarbanes requests details on the support offered.
Sarbanes asks about the extreme difference in the number of Facebook ads approved for the Trump and Clinton campaigns, citing 5.9 million ads approved for Trump and 66,000 for Clinton.
Zuckerberg says no special approval rights were given to the Trump campaign.
Sarbanes says he accepts Zuckerberg at his word but says it’s important because “the embed program becomes a tool to solicit favors from policy makers” and could pose a conflict of interest.
“Are we the people going to regulate our political discourse, or are you, Mark Zuckerberg, going to do so?” Sarbanes asks.
9:08 a.m.: Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky. asks if Facebook is unique in “Silicone Valley” in targeting ads.
Zuckerberg defends targeting, saying it makes advertising more affordable to small businesses.
9:05 a.m.: Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., quizzes Zuckerberg about what data Facebook collects outside of the Facebook website or app. She talks over him as he attempts to disagree with her assertions about what data Facebook collects.
“Would you just acknowledge that that’s the business Facebook is in, gathering data?” Castor asks.
“I disagree with that characterization,” Zuckerberg says.
Zuckerberg points out that Facebook stopped working with data brokers two weeks ago.
“It’s practically impossible in America to remain untracked,” Castor says. “And that’s not part of the bargain. … Congress should act.”
9:00 a.m.: The hearing is called back to order. Rep. Leonard Lance. R-N.J., asks about censorship of conservative views and mentions the BROWSER Act, which Rep. Blackburn had mentioned earlier and which Lance is co-sponsoring.
Zuckerberg says he will review the act and get back to Rep. Lance.
Zuckerberg says that Facebook was trying to balance two equities for people to bring their data to another app, but it also needs to balance that the information was protected. He says they didn’t get that balance right.
Lance brings up the FTC consent decree. Zuckerberg says he does not believe the Cambridge Analytica incident violated the decree. Lance disagrees.
8:42 a.m.: Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, says, “I think trust is in short supply here, and that’s why we’re here today.”
“Do you believe that users own their data, even when their data has been supplemented by a data broker?” Matsui asks.
“I believe people own their own content,” Zuckerberg says. “Let’s say you take a photo and you share it with me. My position is that it’s our photo, and I can take it to another app.”
That’s not what Matsui is asking about, though.
“All the content you put in, Congresswoman, all the data you put in, that’s yours and you can take it down,” Zuckerberg says.
“You can’t claw it back once it goes out there,” Matsui observes. “Once it’s used in advertising, you lose control of it.”
Zuckerberg repeats the point that Facebook does not sell data to advertisers.
- Note from San Francisco: Business editor Owen Thomas wonders: Why doesn’t Zuckerberg bring up Facebook’s move to cut off third-party data providers like Experian and Acxiom? That seems directly relevant to the point Matsui is asking about.
8:38 a.m.: Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., asks if the 2012 Obama campaign’s use of data was the same kind of violation as the Cambridge Analytica case.
Zuckerberg makes the distinction that Aleksandr Kogan’s sale of the data he obtained to Cambridge Analytica violated Facebook’s terms.
“The platform worked the way we designed it at the time,” Zuckerberg says.
8:34 a.m.: Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., asks if Zuckerberg will convene a meeting with other tech leaders to work on increasing diversity.
“We care about this not from the justice angle, we know that having diverse viewpoints is what will help us serve our community better,” Zuckerberg says.
Butterfield observes that Facebook’s leadership team “does not reflect America” and asks if Zuckerberg will commit to adding an African American executive. Zuckerberg does not make a clear commitment in response.
8:30 a.m.: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., asks about Facebook’s recent changes to the News Feed algorithm.
“There is an issue with content discrimination,” McMorris says.
McMorris asks what is Facebook doing that users are being treated fairly by content reviewers.
Zuckerberg says the company does make mistakes but that one shouldn’t “extrapolate” from those examples and conclude there is bias.
“This is an important issue in building trust,” McMorris Rodgers says.
8:23 a.m.: Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill., reads a series of apologies Zuckerberg has made over time for past privacy scandals.
“This proves to me that self-regulation simply does not work,” Schakowsky says, and mentions a piece of legislation she’s backing.
Zuckerberg says the investigation into apps will take “many months” but not years.
Zuckerberg says that a “handful” of app developers engaged in rogue behavior like Kogan and Cambridge Analytica.
“Who’s going to protect us from Facebook is also a question,” Schakowsky concludes.
8:20 a.m.: Rep. Robert Latta, R-Ohio, asks Zuckerberg how many apps Facebook needs to be investigate. Zuckerberg says there were tens of thousands of apps.
Latta asks how long it would take to investigate each of them. Zuckerberg says it is going to take many months.
“It’s going to be an expensive process with a lot of auditors but we think this the right thing to do at this point,” Zuckerberg says. ”Clearly we cannot just take developers’ word for it.”
8:15 a.m.: Rep. Michael Doyle, D-Pa., asks if Facebook regularly learns about privacy breaches in the press, as with Cambridge Analytica. Zuckerberg says sometimes, yes.
“It seems that you were more concerned with attracting and retaining developers on the Facebook Platform than protecting users,” Doyle says, before switching gears to the 2011 FTC consent decree.
8:10 a.m. Rep. Steve Scalise, R.-La., sks if Zuckerberg agrees that they need more computer programmers in the field. Yes, he says, cracking a smile.
Scalise says he is familiar with algorithms and asks Zuckerberg if he can say for sure if anyone developing Facebook’s algorithms had a bias, and brings up the Diamond and Silk incident. Zuckerberg says he wasn’t familiar with the details because he was preparing to give testimony at the time.
“But it strikes me that there is a real trust gap here,” Doyle said. “This developer data is just one example. Why should we trust you?”
Zuckerberg says that Facebook has taken action against developers.
8:06 a.m.: Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., grills Zuckerberg mercilessly and challenges him on his lack of knowledge of details of lawsuits and the FTC consent decree.
“The reason why we are asking these questions, sir, is we continue to have these abuses and data breaches, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like future activities are prevented,” DeGette says, adding she would like to see robust penalties in place.
At one point, Zuckerberg doesn’t answer and just stares back at DeGette.
8:02 a.m.: Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., asks “Who owns the virtual you?”
She also asks if privacy is a primary value at Facebook.
She mentions that a constitutent who works in health care was “stunned” that there was no equivalent of HIPAA, the health-care privacy law, for Internet companies.
Blackburn mentions the BROWSER Act and asks Zuckerberg to support it. Zuckerberg says he needs to get familiar with it.
Blackburn asks if Facebook manipulates algorithms to prioritize or censor speech.
She ends by lecturing Zuckerberg about the blocking of Diamond and Silk, which Zuckerberg earlier said was a mistake.
7:58 a.m.: Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, asks about privacy controls. Zuckerberg says people around the world deserve good privacy controls.
7:55 a.m.: Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, asks about Facebook’s terms of service and whether Facebook has laid out examples of good or bad behavior for developers.
Zuckerberg says Facebook does have terms of service for developers.
Burgess brings up the 2011 Federal Trade commission consent decree and asks if Facebook is making information from audits available for the FTC. Zuckerberg says it is complying with the FTC’s investigation.
7:48 a.m.: Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., asks if Facebook plans to use Aleksandr Kogan, the U.K. researcher who sold data to Cambridge Analytica, for breach of contract.
“It is something we are looking into,” Zuckerberg says, and adds that Kogan has been banned from the platform. There’s some suggestion in the subsequent exchange that Facebook is looking into whether other researchers at Cambridge University were involved in collecting Facebook data improperly.
Engel asks if Facebook has the ability to know when a foreign entity attempts to buy a political ads. Zuckerberg says yes and says the company is doing, including using AI tools. He says those tools were able to take down tens of thousands of fake accounts in other elections including France’s.
“Our tools are getting better,” Zuckerberg says.
“It’s an arms race and we are (gaining) ground,” citing progress in blocking Russian cybertrolls trying to interfere with recent elections around the world.
7:44 a.m.: Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., says his 88-year-old dad uses Facebook. He got his mom an iPad recently, “because she can’t use a keyboard.”
Shimkus asks about apps. Zuckerberg says opening Facebook up to apps allowed companies like Zynga to flourish, but it also led to abuse. In 2014, Facebook changed the rules so app makers no longer have access to a user’s list of friends.
Shimkus asks if Zuckerberg can clarify how tracking works between different devices.
Zuckerberg says Facebook tracks certain information for security reasons and advertising. People can turn off ad targeting, but not security-related tracking, he says.
7:38 a.m.: Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is speaking. Her district doesn’t include Facebook headquarters, but Zuckerberg lives in it.
“I believe our democratic institutions are going through a stress test and I believe American companies owe something to America,” Eshoo says.
“Putting our private information on offer without concern for possible misuses, I think is simply irresponsible,” Eshoo says.
Eshoo asks Zuckerberg if he feels he as a moral responsibility to build a service that supports the protection of democracy. Zuckerberg says yes.
Eshoo asks if Zuckerberg will require an opt-in before third parties get access to user data, Zuckerberg says it already does that.
Eshoo asks if Zuckerberg’s data was sold to Cambridge Analytica. Zuckerberg says yes.
Eshoo asks if Zuckerberg personally called Cambridge Analytica’s CEO when he learned about the breach. Zuckerberg evades the question.
This is probably the testiest exchange yet in the two hearings.
7:34 a.m.: Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., asks whether regulation would discourage new startups.
Zuckerberg repeats a talking point he’s used before, that the average American uses eight different apps a day.
The Internet is growing in importance around the world in people’s lives, so I think it is inevitable that there needs to be regulation,” Zuckerberg says. “I think regulation by definition puts in place rules that a company our size can easily comply with” but that may pose a burden to smaller ones.
7:29 a.m.: Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., takes a long time to ask what the difference between “Facebook’s methodology” and that of former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover is.
Zuckerberg says the difference is people choose to post on Facebook and can take it down anytime.
“They’re proactively choosing every time to send a message or share on Facebook who to share it with,” Zuckerberg says.
Rush asks about racially discriminatory housing ads using Facebook’s targeting tools. “What has Facebook done” about this, Rush asks.
Zuckerberg says Facebook removed the option to target based on ethnicity after it learned about the discriminatory ads.
7:25 a.m.: Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, asks about the “censorship” of conservative bloggers Diamond and Silk. “They hold conservative views, that isn’t unsafe,” Barton says.
Zuckerberg says that was an “enforcement mistake” and that Facebook has been in touch with them to “reverse that.”
Barton says Facebook is “such an integral part of young Americans’ lives.”
Zuckerberg says he agrees that people should be able to get the fullest expression possible on Facebook.
Barton asks why there isn’t a no-sharing, no-scraping version of Facebook for teens.
Zuckerberg says teens often do want to share on Facebook: “If you want to share that publicly, you have to specifically change that setting to share it publicly.”
Barton says he uses Facebook. ”You could set up your Facebook account to be totally private, but you have to work at it,” he says.
7:21 a.m.: Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, responding to Zuckerberg’s statement that Facebook is an “optimistic” company, says he does not have much faith in corporate America.
“To the extent that we can pass legislation, I want that legislation to give (users) the right to know. To provide more transparency,” Pallone says.
He asks if Facebook has limited the data it collects and uses.
Zuckerberg says it has.
Pallone asks if Zuckerberg will commit to changing its default settings to collect the minimum amount of data. “Congressman, I think this is complex question that deserves more than a one-word answer,” Zuckerberg says. Pallone says he’s disappointed by that answer. Zuckerberg agrees to follow up.
Zuckerberg defends the use of Facebook to log in into apps. Pallone says, “People aren’t empowered enough to make those decisions in a positive way.”
7:16 a.m.: Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., starts the questioning by pointing out that Facebook has licensed sports shows and asks if it’s a media company.
Zuckerberg repeats his line that he considers Facebook a technology company.
He points out that Facebook builds planes to connect people — referring to Facebook’s Internet-broadcasting drones — but doesn’t consider Facebook an aerospace company.
Rep. Walden then asks if Facebook is a financial institution, because people can use Facebook to send money. Zuckerberg says he does not think it’s a financial institution.
Walden asks why explaining what Facebook does with user data is not more of a priority.
Zuckerberg says, “Every day, about 100 billion times a day people come to one of our products … to put in a piece of content and every time, there is a control right there about who do you want to share it with.”
“That’s the most important thing we do, and I think in that product it is quite clear,” he says.
Zuckerberg says Facebook doesn’t sell data. “We can do a clearer job explaining that,” he adds.
Walden starts to ask Zuckerberg if he can manage the issues before him or if Congress has to intervene, but he runs out of time.
7:11 a.m.: Mark Zuckerberg delivers his opening statement. It is largely similar to the one he delivered at the Senate hearing Tuesday, saying that the problems Facebook faced were “my mistake” and that the company was taking a “broader view” of its responsibility.
He repeats that they’re investigating Cambridge Analytica and looking into other app developers to prevent similar data-leak incidents.
He says that advertisers and developers will “never take priority” over what he calls “Facebook’s social mission” of “helping people connect and giving more people a voice.”
7:03 a.m.: Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., starts the meeting and calls the Cambridge Analytica incident, in which Facebook said 87 million users’ data may have been leaked through an app, disturbing. Yet he also called Zuckerberg one of the greatest entrepreneurs.
“You did it all without having to ask permission from the federal government,” Walden said.
While he said there are aspects people are proud of Facebook in terms of it being an American company, “I think it’s time to ask if Facebook moved too fast and broken too many things,” referring to Facebook’s longtime mantra.
Walden says he hopes the hearing will shed light on Facebook’s policies and practices include third party access to user data and provide information on how user information is used by Facebook.
Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, talks about how Facebook’s ubiquity comes with a price. “Many of us can’t give it up easily,” referring to both individuals and businesses.
“Facebook is just the latest string of companies that vacuum up our data,” he says.
The Federal Trade Commission used every tool it had and it is not enough, Pallone says, and adds that there should be more regulation.
“We need to figure out how to make these companies act more responsibly before the press finds out,” Pallone says. “How was (Facebook) so blind to the Russians and others were doing on its system?”
“If all we do is have a hearing and nothing happens, that is not accomplishing anything,” Pallone says. “I’ve just seen it over and over again, where we have the hearing and nothing happens.”
7 a.m.: Mark Zuckerberg is seated, drinking water, waiting for the hearing to start.
- From Bloomberg: A photo snapped at Tuesday’s Senate hearing revealed Zuckerberg’s talking points, including arguing that China will gain an advantage if Facebook is overregulated or broken up.
Follow us on Twitter at @techchronicle to get an alert when the hearing starts and for live updates of the biggest news.
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