Zuckerberg opens Senate hearing with an apology


WASHINGTON DC: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg began a two-day congressional inquisition Tuesday with a public apology for a privacy scandal that has roiled the social media giant he founded more than a decade ago.

Zuckerberg opened his remarks before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees by taking responsibility for failing to prevent Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, from gathering personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says his company is “working with” special counsel Robert Mueller in his probe into Russian interference.

Earlier this year Mueller charged 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies in a plot to interfere in the 2016 presidential election through a social media propaganda effort that included online ad purchases using U.S. aliases and politicking on U.S. soil. Some of the Russian ads were on Facebook.

Zuckerberg says he has not been personally interviewed and said he is not aware if the company has been subpoenaed.

Asked by Senator Lindsey Graham if Facebook has a monopoly, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it “certainly doesn’t feel that way to me.”

Zuckerberg is facing 44 senators in a rare joint committee hearing to talk about how his company protects user data and deals with elections meddling, among other issues. He says Facebook has many competitors and demurred at naming just one.

He says Facebook provides a “number of different services” and that the average person uses eight different apps to communicate with friends.

Some critics who say Facebook is too big to say it should be forced to spin off apps like WhatsApp and Instagram.

Generally, though, Facebook is considered a “duopoly” with Google when it comes to the digital advertising market. It does have several competitors on other fronts, including by Twitter, Snapchat and various messaging apps around the world

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to assure U.S. lawmakers who are worried that Russia and other foreign powers will use the social media network to meddle in the upcoming midterm elections.

Testifying for the first time publicly on Capitol Hill, the 33-year-old told lawmakers that 2018 was an “incredibly important year” for elections around the world, including the US, India and Brazil.

He says Facebook has deployed new artificial intelligence tools that do a better job identifying fake accounts. This is intended to help prevent elections interference by foreign actors — something Zuckerberg says is an “arms race.”

He’s said in the past that the company is in better shape this year than it was in the 2016 U.S. presidential election when Facebook said to be used by Moscow to sow discord among Americans.

Facebook could have artificial intelligence tools within a five to 10 year period that accurately flag hate speech.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Senate hearing that he is optimistic that in that time period the company will have the tools that can get into “linguistic nuances” of content to be more accurate in flagging posts that use hate speech.

Today, he said, “we’re just not there on that.”

Zuckerberg is facing 44 senators as part of a rare joint committee hearing to address how his company handles user privacy and other issues.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says “it was clearly a mistake” to believe the data-mining company Cambridge Analytica deleted Facebook data it had gathered in an attempt to sway elections.

A former employee of Cambridge Analytica, a London-based data-mining firm with ties to U.S. President Donald Trump, said the company collected the Facebook information of tens of millions of users without their permission. The firm got Facebook information through an app in order to build psychological profiles on a large portion of the U.S. electorate.

Zuckerberg said the company considered the data collection “a closed case” because they thought the data had been deleted. He said they would handle it differently today.

He said the company did not alert the Federal Trade Commission about the data collection.