The CEO has an audience before the Senate Juridical and Commercial Committees
WASHINGTON – Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised on Tuesday before Congress that his company will take measures to protect the private information of the millionaires of that social network, under the magnitude of the misuse of data at the hands of Cambridge Analytica.
In his first joint hearing before 44 senators from the Senate’s Legal and Commercial Committees, Zuckerberg offered a “mea culpa” after the revelation that Cambridge Analytica improperly used the personal data of some 87 million Facebook users, but promised reforms to protect your information
The revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultant linked to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, unduly collected that information to favor the Republican candidate in front of the voters, has left a huge stain on Facebook, and generated an intense campaign against the company.
“We did not have a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I direct it, and I am responsible for what happens there, “said Zuckerberg, wearing a blue suit and tie.
Among the company’s string of errors, said Zuckerberg, is the failure to notify the Federal Communications Commission (FTC) about the security breach by Cambridge Analytica regarding the information of the 87 million users. Facebook only trusted that the company would delete the information.
“It will take some time to complete all the changes we need to make, but I am committed to doing it correctly,” promised Zuckerberg, whose company generates $ 40 billion in revenue.
During the five-hour marathon hearing, Zuckerberg, 33, acknowledged that it is not enough to connect people but ensure that those connections are “positive”, and also promised that the protection of elections this year in the US and other countries is one of your top priorities.
Therefore, Zuckerberg outlined the steps that Facebook is taking in the wake of the scandal, including a thorough investigation of what Cambridge Analytica did; an audit of thousands of applications and the type of access they have had, and safeguard measures to protect users’ private information to prevent further incidents in the future.
With legal advisers from his company behind him, Zuckerberg also promised to take steps to prevent the spread of false news.
Asked by Republican Senator and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, about what Facebook will do to prevent the misuse of private data, Zuckerberg described the audit process.
” We will investigate many applications – tens of thousands of applications – and if we find any suspicious activity, we will perform a full audit of those applications to understand how they are using the data and if they are doing something wrong … if they are doing something wrong, the We will expel Facebook and we will notify all those affected, “he explained.
“People will measure us by our results … I am committed to correcting this, “reiterated Zuckerberg, who faces tough questions related to the protection of privacy, political manipulation of data, and freedom of expression, among other issues.
Asked by California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein about Russia’s electoral interference, Zuckerberg acknowledged that his company was slow to recognize bad signals about Russian operations, but expressed confidence that Facebook has improved intelligence tools to “identify fake accounts.” “And to prevent the spread of false information.
In fact, the company has already eliminated “tens of thousands” of unverified accounts, said Zuckerberg.
The businessman said that Facebook does not sell information about its users or share information about undocumented immigrants with the authorities, except in cases of imminent danger or if the company receives a judicial summons. It also does not store information if the account is deleted, although users have the option to temporarily disable their accounts, he added.
To illustrate what is at stake to protect people’s private data, Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin asked Zuckerberg about where he is staying in Washington or would be willing to share the names of people in his text messages, what made the entrepreneur blush.
“I probably would not choose to share that publicly,” he said.
Durbin replied that, in the end, that is the core of the audience: the right to private life of people, the limits of those rights, and what people end up losing in the name of that connection to cyberspace.
On the other hand, faced with a question from Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, Zuckerberg said, without giving details, that his team has been contacted by the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, as part of the extensive investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI) on the interference of Russia in the 2016 elections.
Several Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, said they were not impressed with Zuckerberg’s “apology tour,” nor did they praise Facebook’s “terms of service.”
“We’ve seen these apology tours before. You have refused to even acknowledge an ethical violation … I do not see how you can change your business model unless there are specific regulations “derived from regulatory legislation, Blumenthal said.
Other senators, including Republicans, echoed that complaint, and Zuckerberg said he is willing to negotiate regulations, particularly to simplify the “terms of service” that consumers, in general, do not read.
The audience, in general, maintained a courteous tone, although the skepticism of the legislators was clear. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz suggested that Facebook tends to favor Democrats by censoring the content of conservative groups and Trump’s base.
Zuckerberg affirmed that Facebook does not seek to participate in political discussions but to pretend to be a “platform for all ideas”, and insisted that his company does not discriminate against its more than 20,000 employees by ideological positions.
At the beginning of the hearing, a handful of demonstrators wore huge glasses with a message for Zuckerberg: “stop spying on us”. Outside the Capitol, dozens of pictures of Zuckerberg on cardboard adorned a lawn, in protest