Hearings Show Congress Doesn't Understand Facebook Well Enough To Regulate It


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told lawmakers Wednesday that his own personal data was included in that of 87 million or so Facebook users that was improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook has been consumed by turmoil for almost a month, since it came to light that millions of users' personal information was wrongly harvested from the website by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that has counted U.S. President Donald Trump's election campaign among its clients.

"It is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation", Mr Zuckerberg said, but steered away from any specifics.

In the 4 minutes of tensed exchange, the representative also asked Zuckerberg if he was willing to change Facebook's business model to protect the privacy of people who use the social media platform. It's not clear what that regulation would look like.

"When we heard back from Cambridge Analytica that they had told us that they weren't using the data and deleted it, we considered it a closed case", Zuckerberg said. Congress can and must step in with some new regulation regarding what data Facebook and similar companies can collect and what they can do with it. He was also asked how Facebook stores data about which websites people visit, and whether it creates so-called "shadow profiles" - accounts for people who either have not created Facebook accounts yet, or gotten rid of them. During the time of the data breach, your mom might then have downloaded her information from Facebook, only to find that second email address listed by her name.

Mr. Zuckerberg did not admit that the company explicitly chose to withhold that information from consumers, but he said the company made a mistake in not telling users.

According to The Hill, Facebook officials said they've been in touch with the sisters and claimed the message they received from the site last week was "inaccurate".

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Zuckerberg said, "For obvious reasons we do not allow people to turn off the measurement that we do around security". Zuckerberg admitted "most people do not read the whole thing".

Although numerous questions that were asked seemed a bit off-topic-often due to the apparent lack of understanding about the company-some senators did focus their attention on the topic at hand. One said information was likely shared after a friend logged in and another said they were not affected.

"Senator, I want to make sure I get this accurate so it would probably be better to have my team follow up afterwards", Zuckerberg responded, before being pressed and giving an incomplete answer.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) said, "Here's what I do know: you have trackers all over the web".

"Senator, we have a lot of competitors", he said.

The proliferation of so-called fake news has put Mr. Zuckerberg in an awkward spot, as the company promises to do a better job of weeding out propaganda and falsehoods but insists it can not police free speech.

Republican senators who grilled Zuckerberg during his appearance Tuesday, however, focused on Facebook's failings.