Yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced the US Congress for the first time over the data sharing scandal involving Cambridge Analytica. Zuckerberg answered hard-hitting questions about privacy, data mining, regulations and Cambridge Analytica over the course of the five-hour hearing.
In case you missed the live stream of apologetic Zuckerberg, here’s what you need to know from last night’s testimony:
Privacy is the most important thing on the network but they do need to rethink their “philosophy”
Mark Zuckerberg reiterated throughout the hearing that they have put tools in place on Facebook for users to manage their privacy. Zuckerberg explained “I believe it’s important to tell people exactly how the information that they share on Facebook is going to be used. That’s why, every single time you go to share something on Facebook, whether it’s a photo on Facebook, or a message, every single time, there’s a control right there about who you’re going to be sharing it with”. But Zuckerberg did sway a bit back and forth during the testimony and at another stage he pressed that the company has made a lot of mistakes and it is time they rethink their philosophy at Facebook.
Facebook does not record audio from your phone for information
Sen. Gary Peters expressed his concern for Facebook mining audio to create targeted ads, a conspiracy theory Facebook has been denying for years. Zuckerberg flat out stated “We don’t do that” to Peters.
The platform’s goal is “to allow people to have as much expression as possible.”
Zuckerberg emphasised throughout the testimony that Facebook is a platform for all ideas, where they work to police content that can cause “real-world harm,” such as terrorism, self-harm, or election interference.
Facebook is in an “arms race” with Russia
Zuckerberg told US senators that Facebook is in a constant battle with Russian operators who seek to exploit the social network. “This is an arms race. They’re going to keep getting better,” he said.
Not ruling out a paid version of Facebook
When asked about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s comments about a Facebook that allows users to “opt out” as a “paid product”, Zuckerberg seemed to leave the possibility of a paid version of Facebook open. He continued with “There will always be a version of Facebook that is free.”
Facebook would be open to regulation
When the topic of regulation was brought up, Zuckerberg said that he looks at his company as a tech company rather than a publishing company, adding that Facebook is responsible for the content even though they don’t produce it. “I think, if it’s the right regulation, then yes” Zuckerberg said.
Meanwhile, as of today, Zuckerberg might not have a choice when it comes to this matter because senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal introduced a piece of legislation that would require companies who mine user data to sell to advertisers (like Facebook and Google) to have an opt-in option to sharing their personal information. Companies would also have to notify users if their data is collected, shared or hacked.
They couldn’t ban Cambridge Analytica from Facebook in 2015
At the time (to his understanding), Cambridge Analytica was not on the platform and ran no pages or advertising on Facebook. Finding out later that Cambridge Analytica was in fact actually on the platform, Zuckerberg said that “we could have in theory banned them then. We made a mistake by not doing so.” This was decided after Cambridge Analytica told Facebook that they weren’t using the data and had deleted it. After this was said, Facebook considered this a closed case.
Will Facebook remain as we know it today? Tell us in the comments below
There were a number of awkward moments that we just HAD to compile into a video for you: