Abril 24, 2018

Zuckerberg unscathed after five-hour Senate grilling session

11 Abril 2018, 11:12 | Crisanna Felipe

Daniel Leal-Olivas AFP

Facebook to contact 87 million users affected by Cambridge Analytica data breach

Zuckerberg also revealed that Facebook is cooperating with the United States special prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the 2016 vote.

"With all of the data exchanged over Facebook and other platforms, users deserve to know how their information is shared and secured".

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg officially ran the congressional gauntlet on Tuesday during a joint committee hearing in which almost half the Senate grilled the social media executive about his platform's ability to protect Americans' personal data and ferret out foreign meddling in USA elections.

Ted Cruz turned the heat up on Zuckerberg, pressing the Facebook CEO on whether or not the company has fired anyone for having conservative viewpoints, or throttled posting on the platform that is conservative.

But then, Zuckerberg added a few caveats: "I want to be careful here, because that - our work with the special counsel is confidential", he said.

Zuckerberg repeated his apologies made on Monday for a range of problems that have beset the world's largest social network, but the 33-year-old internet mogul broke little new ground in a joint hearing of the US Senate's Commerce and Judiciary committees, raising investor hopes he could forestall strict regulation.

Facebook is under fire in the worst privacy crisis in its history after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-affiliated data-mining firm, used ill-gotten personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections. Previous reporting had put the number of users at about 50 million.

"Senator, I want to make sure I get this accurate, so it would probably be better to have my team follow up afterwards", Zuckerberg replied. Senator, Let me be clear on this. It posits that Facebook surreptitiously records audio using the microphones on users' smart phones, then uses voice recognition software to turn it into searchable terms that the site can use to place ads in the user's news feed. "It certainly doesn't feel that way to me", he said, breaking into a smile as the audience laughed. It's not enough to just connect people.

Still, there were plenty of questions Zuckerberg struggled to answer, and others where his promises seemed to fall flat. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that "there will always be a version of Facebook that is free".

Users describe Facebook in many ways: that it brings together family and friends (53 percent) but also brings them gossip and misleading information (48 percent); they describe it as both a fun way to communicate (59 percent) but they also find it annoying when people share too much (41 percent). Zuckerberg wouldn't say whether Facebook made a clear decision not to inform users but said that, looking back, the company screwed up in how it handled the situation.

Dozens of protestors gathered outside Congress before the hearing wearing Zuckerberg masks and #DeleteFacebook T-shirts.

Prepare to see footage of Cruz grilling Zuckerberg about political bias on every Fox News opinion show.

I don't think anyone would watch this and be more angry with Facebook than when the hearing started. There was a person in a troll wig and a "Russia" scarf, presumably because on Facebook there are Russian trolls. "That is a very important founding principle of what we do, and we're proud of the discourse and the different ideas that people can share on the service, and that is something that as long as I'm running the company I'm going to be committed to making sure is the case".

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