During his testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Commerce Committee Tuesday, the first day of a two-day tour as the Facebook founder addresses officials about privacy issues and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Zuckerberg repeatedly reminded those watching that his behemoth company got its start as a seedling inside of his Cambridge digs – a place that has been described as a mecca for some students, albeit one that’s a bit dingy and tight on space. Joining us now to talk about today’s events is Alina Selyukh.
CORNISH: So was it more of the same in terms of the style of questioning? “Thats not how advertising works, and I do think we could probably be doing a clearer job explaining that, given the misperceptions that are out there”, he said in response to a question. Lawmakers cut him off a lot.
I’m a relatively well-informed Facebook user.
But in a brief moment of relief, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who represents California’s Palo Alto area, where numerous largest tech companies are headquartered, asked a revelatory question about Zuckerberg’s own personal information.
New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone asked whether Facebook would consider changing the default privacy settings of Facebook users “to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the collection and use of users’ data”. They can add their ad preferences.
Republican lawmakers were largely focused on allegations of anti-conservative bias at the social network.
CORNISH: But did tougher questions elicit better answers or any new insights? Zuckerberg said that there was a more innocent explanation.
“I am indeed wary that you are only acting now out of concern for your brand and are making changes that should have been made long ago”, Democrat Paul Tonko said.
Facebook was built to connect people Zuckerberg kept repeating to senators in Washington and 40% of our panelists who have been on the platform for more than seven years wish Facebook could go back to be how it was.
BEN RAY LUJAN: Facebook has detailed profiles on people who have never signed up for Facebook – yes or no? You did not know how many firms have been sold data by Dr. Kogan, other than Cambridge Analytica and Eunoia Technologies, even though you were asked that question yesterday.
Representatives grilled Mr Zuckerberg on a wide range of issues around privacy, surveillance, censorship and politics, regularly asking for yes or no answers which the Facebook founder struggled to provide.
Mark Zuckerberg is facing a second day of questions from US Senators over data breaches at Facebook.
And the May 25 adoption of new European Union data rules called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which gives users the right to have their data destroyed, could add to momentum in the U.S. Congress.
“Are you going to come back up here and be a strong advocate to see that that law’s passed?” asked Democratic Senator Tom Udall.
Multiple legislators also raised the prospect that Facebook’s data policies with third-party apps violated a 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission after a prior privacy complaint. He gave no timeline. Two Senate committees wanted to know how Zuckerberg had allowed the data of tens of millions Americans to be misused-an oversight that may have tilted the outcome of a Presidential election-and go unaddressed for years.
CORNISH: Any indications what lawmakers might do next? It means that advertisers have a lower probability of wasting their money on me with products and services I have no interest in. There was a lot of energy behind some kind of regulation.
“If you do something wrong and say you’re sorry – whether you don’t take the garbage out or cheat on your partner – you might get another shot”, he said.
Kirkland House at Harvard University, the dorm where Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook.
CORNISH: That’s NPR’s Alina Selyukh.