Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will face another round of questioning today in Washington over the social network’s mishandling of users’ data.
A contrite Zuckerberg faced five hours in the hot seat on Tuesday before a joint hearing of the Senate judiciary and commerce committees.
He will next be in front of the House energy and commerce committee in the wake of the data harvesting controversy involving Facebok and U.K. data analysis company Cambridge Analytica.
Lawmakers want to know how the social media platform came to share the data of 87 million users, mostly in the U.S., with Cambridge Analytica, a firm that worked for U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Zuckerberg, 33, began his first day of testimony by saying his company was created as a tool for good and he takes responsibility for the company’s mistakes.
Among other things, he promised a review of all the developers who work with Facebook. He said any developer found to be misusing data would be banned.
“But it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools for being used for harm, as well. And that goes for fake news, for foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.
“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibilities and it was a big mistake. It was my mistake and I’m sorry,” Zuckerberg said. “I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”
However, he rejected the suggestion that his company was “wilfully blind,” and said he has made major changes to the service to seek out fake accounts and better protect users’ privacy.
During Tuesday’s questioning, Zuckerberg also disclosed his company was “working with” special counsel Robert Mueller in the federal probe of Russian election interference.
Separately, the company began alerting some of its users that their data was gathered by Cambridge Analytica. A notification that appeared on Facebook for some users Tuesday told them that “one of your friends” used Facebook to log into a now-banned personality quiz app called “This Is Your Digital Life.” The notice says the app misused the information, including public profiles, page likes, birthdays and current cities, by sharing it with Cambridge Analytica.
Seemingly unimpressed with Zuckerberg’s apology, Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota said Zuckerberg’s company had a 14-year history of apologizing for “ill-advised decisions” related to user privacy.
“How is today’s [Tuesday’s] apology different?” Thune asked.
The controversy has brought a flood of bad publicity and sent the company’s stock value plunging, but Zuckerberg seemed to achieve a measure of success in countering that before the committees: Facebook shares surged 4.5 per cent for the day, the biggest gain in two years.