Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg testifies to US Congress over Cambridge Analytica scandal

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The 33-year-old CEO told lawmakers that the misuse of Facebook data “was my mistake, and I’m sorry.” Zuckerberg confirmed his company is “working with” a probe into Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized to US lawmakers on Tuesday, telling a Congressional hearing the company did not do enough to prevent the misuse of user data.

Zuckerberg made the comment during the first of two highly anticipated hearings over Facebook’s involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

What Zuckerberg said:

  • “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry … I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”
  • “It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm … That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”
  • “It will take some time to work through all of the changes we need to make, but I’m committed to getting it right.”
  • Facebook is “working with” the special investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 US presidential election. “There are people in Russia whose job it is to try to exploit our systems and other internet systems and other systems as well … This is an arms race. They’re going to keep getting better and we need to invest in getting better at this too.”

The scandal: A whistleblower revealed in March that his former employer, Cambridge Analytica, gained access to the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge. The company used the information to influence the 2016 US presidential election and the 2016 Brexit referendum. Facebook said on Tuesday it had started notifying some of the 70.6 million users in the US and around 2.7 million users in the European Union who were affected.

Legal consequences: Facebook has been heavily criticized for allowing the breach and faces two federal lawsuits — one in California and one in Delaware — over its handling of user data.

Facebook’s bounty: The company has promised to shore up its safeguards for user data. On Tuesday, it announced a new Data Abuse Bounty to “reward people with first-hand knowledge and proof of cases where a Facebook platform app collects and transfers people’s data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence.”

Who is Mark Zuckerberg? The 33-year-old has been Facebook CEO since he founded the company in 2004 as an undergraduate student at Harvard University. Forbes magazine estimates his personal wealth around $64 billion (€52 billion).

One of two: Tuesday’s joint hearing to the Senate commerce and judiciary committees was the first of two Congressional appearances for Zuckerberg. He is set to testify at a second hearing on the scandal on Wednesday to the House of Representatives’ commerce and energy committees.

amp/jm (dpa, Reuters, AP, Reuters)

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