Ahead of grilling, Zuckerberg tells Congress: 'My mistake, I'm sorry'

Marsha Scott
April 10, 2018

It's a big week for Facebook as Mark Zuckerberg testifies at two Congressional hearings, starting Tuesday, as he answers for the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

The 33-year-old tech billionaire will appear before back-to-back panels of the Senate judiciary and commerce committees on Tuesday and will also testify in front of the House committee on energy and commerce on Wednesday.

Ten New Zealanders who downloaded an app on Facebook could have exposed up to 63,714 of their compatriots to the data mining tactics of Cambridge Analytica.

QUESTION: You've said you should have acted years ago to protect user privacy and guard against other abuses.

Zuckerberg's testimony has already been released ahead of Wednesday's appearance. In the "Today" interview, Sandberg made a confession as humble brag: "We were very idealistic and not rigorous enough". "Yeah of course I'd like to know, it's my privacy and we're all entitled to that and we expect that when we sign up", said Daniel Regua, a Facebook user and resident of San Jose.

Lost amid a flurry of Facebook announcements about privacy settings and data access is a much more fundamental question: Is Facebook really changing its relationship with users, or just tinkering around the edges of a deeper problem - its insatiable appetite for the data it uses to sell ads? And Facebook's control, or lack thereof, over fabricated news stories that may have boosted Trump in 2016 figures to be another major topic of discussion. Moreover, Facebook says it will not have approval over the research topics or findings.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in written testimony on Monday that he is "responsible for" not preventing the social media platform from being used for harm, including fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech.

Facebook also admitted that most of its users "could have had their public profile scraped" by various third parties, without their knowledge.

Facebook has taken a series of proactive steps to make up for massive lapses in protecting personal data, as lawmakers signaled they intend to get tough on privacy.

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New Zealand's privacy commissioner, John Edwards, said he was urgently seeking further information from Facebook on how New Zealanders data was used by Cambridge Analytica, and is working closely with his counterparts in the US, UK Australia and Canada to establish the severity and ramifications of the privacy beach.

Facebook's logo appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square, on March 29, 2018.

On Monday, he was pictured in one photo showing his mobile device to Senator Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee.

But a larger body of research suggests that Facebook, as well as other social media, tend to reinforce and intensify existing political views by creating an echo chamber of friends and like-minded users.

In typical Facebook fashion, there's no simple button you can click to see if your data was stolen.

What took Facebook so long to talk about the Cambridge Analytica data leak?

"My sense is he takes it seriously because he knows there's going to be a hard look at regulation", Nelson said of Zuckerberg.

"Facebook is not an innocent bystander to these crimes", said Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center.

Facebook has also suspended two more apps in recent days because they might have misused people's data, adding to a growing list of firms being investigated by the social media company.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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