Zuckerberg faces congressional grilling over Facebook user privacy, 2016 election

Posted on: April 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — Mark Zuckerberg is facing senators eager to question the Facebook CEO over concerns that might lead to regulation of the giant social media platform he founded 14 years ago.

In a highly-anticipated joint hearing Tuesday afternoon, senators on the Commerce and Judiciary committees said they would ask Zuckerberg about alleged user privacy breaches, fake news and the alleged manipulation of the platform by a foreign adversary to spread disinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“This is an extraordinary hearing,” Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican said as the hearing started. “We’re here because off what you, Mr. Zuckerberg, have described as a breach of trust.”

In testimony released Monday, Zuckerberg addressed Facebook’s vulnerabilities, apologizing for failing to adequately protect its billions of users.

“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well,” Zuckerberg says, according to prepared remarks submitted to the congressional record.

“That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy. We didn’t take 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 run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

Zuckerberg’s contrition in the opening remarks largely mirrors Facebook’s public response in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s hearing.

On Monday, Zuckerberg visited one-on-one with senators, including the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, Florida’s Bill Nelson. Nelson told reporters that Zuckerberg accused data firm Cambridge Analytica of lying to Facebook about disposing of user data after Facebook banned the data harvesting methods it relied on.

“When he said to me very forthrightly, ‘We were lied to and we should have caught that,’ I believe that, but I think in today’s world that’s naïve,” Nelson said.

Cambridge Analytica did work for the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, but a spokesperson for the Trump campaign told ABC News in a statement that the campaign used the RNC for its voter data and not Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica did not respond to ABC News’ attempts to get comment on Nelson’s remarks Monday, but the data firm did release a lengthy statement ahead of Zuckerberg’s testimony.

“Cambridge Analytica did not ‘hack’ Facebook,” the statement, distributed on Monday afternoon, read. “Cambridge Analytica did not illegally or inappropriately collect or share data with anybody else. Cambridge Analytica has not broken FEC Regulations.

Cambridge Analytica has said previously it was unaware the data was improperly obtained by a third party and that it was destroyed as soon as it was made aware. The company also said the data was never used as part of the firm’s work with the Trump campaign.

Late Monday night, Facebook began notifying the up to 87 million users whose private data may have been improperly harvested by Cambridge Analytica.

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