Wed, Apr 11, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Zuckerberg faces congressional inquiry

‘FORCE FOR GOOD’:Facebook’s CEO apologized for the company’s mistakes and outlined steps it has taken to restrict third-party access to personal information


After privately assuring senators that his company would do better, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is undergoing a two-day congressional inquisition that will be very public — and possibly pivotal for the massive social networking company he created.

Zuckerberg on Monday visited with senators in closed-door meetings, previewing the public apology he planned to give US Congress yesterday after revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with US President Donald Trump’s election campaign, gathered personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections.

Zuckerberg has already apologized many times, to users and the public, but it is the first time in that he has gone before Congress.

Zuckerberg was to testify before a joint hearing of the US Senate judiciary and commerce committees yesterday and before a US House of Representatives panel today.

In the hearings, Zuckerberg will not only try to restore public trust in his company, but also stave off federal regulation that some lawmakers have floated.

In prepared testimony released on Monday by the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce that he is expected to deliver today, Zuckerberg apologizes for fake news, hate speech, a lack of data privacy and Russian social media interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” he says in the remarks. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

After resisting previous calls to testify, Zuckerberg agreed to travel to Capitol Hill this month after reports surfaced — and the company confirmed — that Cambridge Analytica had gathered Facebook users’ data.

In the remarks, Zuckerberg says his company has a responsibility to make sure what happened with Cambridge Analytica does not happen again.

Zuckerberg is also expected to be asked about Russia’s use of US social media during the 2016 election — a subject of several congressional investigations and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference.

In the statement, Zuckerberg addresses Russian election interference and acknowledges, as he has in the past, that the company was too slow to respond and that it is “working hard to get better.”

The company has said that as many as 146 million people might have received information from a Russian agency that is accused of orchestrating much of the cybermeddling in the election.

“We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference, and we will do our part not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, but also to give everyone a voice and to be a force for good in democracy everywhere,” Zuckerberg adds.

In the testimony, Zuckerberg acknowledges that the questioning will likely be hostile.

“We face a number of important issues around privacy, safety and democracy, and you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer,” Zuckerberg says.

The prepared remarks do not reveal new information about how data was shared or what Facebook will do.

In addition to saying he is sorry, Zuckerberg outlines the steps the company has taken to restrict outsiders’ access to people’s personal information.

He also says the company is investigating every app that had access to a large amount of information before the company moved to prevent such access in 2014 — something that came too late in the Cambridge Analytica case.

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