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Zuckerberg faces tougher questions at House hearing

13 April 2018
Zuckerberg faces tougher questions at House hearing

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in his testimony this week in Washington that there was not a "meaningful" number of people who had deleted their Facebook account following revelations that data firms were able to steal personal information from millions of users.

Mr Zuckerberg paused for a full eight seconds, chuckled, grimaced, and ultimately demurred.

Mark Zuckerberg's admission he was among those caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal shows Facebook lost control of users' data, an Australian privacy expert says. Zuckerberg was visibly nervous, which is understandable, but he wasn't really pressed as expected by Congress considering Facebook's role in the 2016 election interference, even claiming ignorance about the platform that he created.

After allegations that British data firm Cambridge Analytica inappropriately harvested Facebook user data for targeted political advertising, the senatorial questioning focused on concerns about data privacy, control, and regulation, highlighting how the advertising business model disincentives privacy protection.

"There is absolutely no directive to put a bias into anything we do", Zuckerberg said in response to a question by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, about whether Facebook's algorithms have bias built in.

As for non-users, Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Florida, pointed out Wednesday that the company tracks them, too.

"We were encouraged by Facebook removing the posts after the hearing, but they need to be vigilant and program their AI (artificial intelligence technology) to prevent this from occurring in the future", said Thomas.

This kind of policy isn't unique to Facebook - many other companies, such as Netflix and Spotify, routinely mine data to market people's information.

The Facebook CEO has said before that his industry probably needs to be regulated. Furthermore, it should also be noted that Google collects far more information from users which can make Facebook seem like a child.

The reaction of Facebook's chairman and CEO - a middle-grade air of panic, a brief awkward silence and nervous laughter - made it clear he doesn't dwell as thoughtfully on universal privacy issues as much as he wants us to think he does.

John Shimkus, a Republican from IL, asked Zuckerberg whether users are tracked when they are logged out of Facebook.

"So I'm going to have to pay you" not to share information with advertisers, the senator clarified. However, Google gets the thumbs up from users as their services manage to get informed consent, and the company's security measures are also robust, so people don't fear a data breach.

Zuckerberg replied "yes" when asked if his personal data was included in the information sold to the "malicious third parties" by the lawmakers during a testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday.

Facebook is implementing the GDPR standards for European users next month, and some of its rules will be extended to United States and other users later, he confirmed.

It's time to take measures into your own hands to make sure you see the news you want to see, when you want to see it. "That would be a paid product", Sandberg told NBC. "You know there are people in Russian Federation whose job is to exploit our systems... so this is an arms race", he said. "In retrospect it was clearly a mistake to believe them", he said.