Highlights From Mark Zuckerberg's US Congress Hearing : Cautious Answers & Future Promises

Yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced the US Congress for the first time to answer lawmakers’ questions over the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal. In a five-hour hearing, Zuckerberg answered questions from 44 senators, who each had five minutes to grill him on data privacy, regulation and the abuse of his platform.

The question-marathon session didn’t yield much new information, with Zuckerberg mostly sticking to scripted answers or promising to get back to senators when he didn’t have the requested information to hand.

Major Highlights Of His Testimony :-

Zuckerberg won’t rule out a paid version of Facebook:-

The CEO took numerous questions about the company’s business model and whether it could truly protect users’ privacy given that it relies so heavily on collecting data about their lives and behavior. Multiple senators asked Zuckerberg whether he might consider a paid, ad-free version of Facebook in the future. He told Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that there would always be a free version of Facebook, suggesting a paid option might be possible. Later, he told another senator that a paid version would be worth thinking about.

Will Do Everything Possible To Protect Elections In India:-

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told US Congress that he took personal responsibility for the leak of data on tens of millions of its users, and assured the senate that his company will do “everything” to ensure the upcoming elections in India and other countries are safe.

“2018 is is an incredibly important year for elections. Not just in the US mid-terms, but, around the world, there are important elections — in India, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan and Hungary — and we want to make sure we do everything we can to protect the integrity of these elections,” the Facebook founder and CEO said.

Zuckerberg had to confront Facebook’s monopoly power:-

When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Zuckerberg to name his biggest competitor, Zuckerberg couldn’t name one. He was pressed repeatedly on Facebook’s large size, and at one point, he was asked whether Facebook was too powerful. Zuckerberg demurred. “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me,” he said in response to Graham’s monopoly question. Senators do seem to be grappling with Facebook’s massive power in a way they haven’t before. But it’s not clear they have any coherent strategy to increase the amount of competition in the social media marketplace.

Zuckerberg is leaning heavily on the future promise of artificial intelligence:-

Whenever asked about how Facebook would improve its moderation tools, Zuckerberg invoked the promise of AI to help Facebook quickly sort through hate speech and other problematic posts. It certainly seems possible that AI will improve Facebook’s content moderation efforts, but it remains unproven.

Senators don’t really understand how Facebook works:-

The company has done a poor job of explaining to its users about how it uses their data, and what the extent of its data-gathering operations are. Numerous senators asked for clarification about how Facebook collects data on people while they are not using the social media site, and several times Zuckerberg was unable to answer these questions, promising to submit a written answer once he had gathered the right information.

Zuckerberg isn’t keen on sharing his own personal details:-

One of the most cringe-inducing parts of the hearing came when Senator Durbin pressed Zuckerberg on his own willingness to share his personal data. Zuckerberg looked physically uncomfortable as he said that he wouldn’t be willing to share the kind of information that his company regularly collects from its own users.

The Verdict:-

For years, Facebook has managed to exist as a dual-headed beast. To advertisers, it’s a sophisticated tool that allows them to target people down to a minute level based on extremely personal information. To users, it’s a social tool that allows them to connect with other people, share information and stay in touch. If Zuckerberg is to restore confidence in Facebook, he must start by plainly explaining to his users how these two parts of his company fit together, and how he’s going to make sure they never get abused to such an extent again.

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