Facebook CEO Zuckerberg testifies to Congress about inappropriate data usage, drug sales

In a moment of clarity in the recently murky subject of digital privacy and usage, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Senate and House committees on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In his opening remarks, Zuckerberg admitted his company “didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry.”

The social media giant founder spoke for more than nine hours over two days covering topics ranging from the recent Cambridge Analytica usage of user data to basic digital privacy issues and illicit drug sales.  On the most recent scandal, Zuckerberg admitted his company did not notify the FTC about the leak of 87 million Facebook users’ personal information.

When asked about stricter privacy policies, Zuckerberg responded:

“Long privacy policies are very confusing; if you make it long and spell out all the detail, then you’re probably going to reduce the percent of people who read it.”

The plethora of topics covered in the testimony eventually boiled down to efficacy of instituting regulations towards the industry and the appropriate steps to take.

A number of senators showed interest, however vague, in implementing some sort of forced rules against the social media kingpin.  Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said:

“I don’t want to vote to have to regulate Facebook, but by God, I will.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee members took a slightly different line of questioning, as several Appalachian region congressman voiced concerns about the continued sale of opioids over the social media network, while other Republicans asked about censorship bias against those who express conservative political views.

Zuckerberg has indicated in the past that Facebook is open to regulation, but a better option would be for the company to handle the ever changing digital landscape without threat of penalty.

In his most poignant statement, Zuckerberg outlined the way his company plans to adapt to the shortcomings it has had in its past:

“It’s not enough to just connect people, we have to make sure those connections are positive. It’s not enough to just give people a voice, we have to make sure people aren’t using it to hurt people or spread misinformation. It’s not enough to give people control of their information, we have to make sure developers they’ve given it to are protecting it too. Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good.”

To that end, the billionaire tech executive reaffirmed support for the Honest Ads Act during his Tuesday testimony, legislation that would increase transparency of political ad buyers on its platform.

Earlier in the day, Twitter formally endorsed the bill introduced in late 2017 and cosponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Watch a highlight video of Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate testimony below:


[NPR] [CNBC] [Wall Street Journal] [Gizmodo] [Photo courtesy SHAWN THEW/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock via BGR]