Facebook Congress Hearing: What We Learned

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, sat to give a full testimony to the U.S. senate regarding the recent Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal, and alleged Russian interference of the 2016 US Presidential elections.

He began his congressional hearing with an apology, taking full responsibility of his companies wrongdoing:

“Its not enough just to connect people, we have to make sure them connections are positive,

Its not enough to give people a voice, we need make sure that people are using it to harm other people or spread misinformation.

Its not enough to give people control of information, we need to make sure developers they share it with protect their information to.

I am committed to getting this right. “

After the 5-hour session, here are our main takeaways from the social network kingpin.

“Europeans get some things right”

When asked about if Facebook could be replied upon to self regulate its own business practices. Mr Zuckerberg replied he welcomed the “right” regulation and would work with congress and submit proposed regulations for industry. Zuckerberg stated “Everyone deserves good privacy protection” and further his company is committed to rolling out controls and affirmative consent, and special controls of special types of technology such as facial recognition, implementing changes regardless of regulatory changes across the world.

When a senator asked if the Europeans get things right, in reference to upcoming GDPR implementation, Zuckerberg wittingly replied “they get things right”. Can we expect data protection regulation rolled out across America in the near future?

“When we say it is your data, we say you have control over it”

When talking of his business model, Zuckerberg clarified that they do not sell data to advertisers stating:

“What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach, and then we do the placement.

That’s a very fundamental part of how our model works and something that is often misunderstood.”

Zuckerberg stating that in 2014 the company implemented restrictions on who could access certain kinds of user data. He further stated that if the change were made earlier, he would not be in the situation he is in today.

 

“Your user agreement sucks”

Probably the more entertaining part of the hearing was when Zuckerberg came under fire from Senator John Kennedy saying:

“Here’s what everyone’s been trying to tell you today — and I say it gently — your user agreement sucks,” Kennedy said.

“The purpose of a user agreement is to cover Facebook’s rear end, not inform users of their rights.”

Zuckerberg replied that he imagines most people do not read the whole thing but are given the “opportunity”.

This is obvious, but then again all-major tech companies that offer a wide range of services like Facebook have terms and conditions, and user agreements that nobody reads. Could we potentially see these agreements phased out for a more clear and seamless alternative?

Zuckerberg seemed calm and relaxed during the hearing, often drawing laughter from attendees in the room. His responses were clear and well rehearsed, and during the session Facebook’s stock closed up 4.5 per cent. Good day in the office Mark?

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