‘Who’s Going to Protect us From Facebook?’ Day 2 Highlights of Zuckerberg Testimony


Mark Zuckerberg settled in for round two of questions and inquiry from the United States Congress following troubling allegations about his company’s handling of personal data.

MORE: Highlights from Mark Zuckerberg’s Day 1 Testimony to Congress

The second and final day brings to an end a whopping ten hours of exchange between Zuck and the US. Government.

For those of you who didn’t have time to watch, we gathered some of the highlights from the second day of testimony.

One thing worth noting in retrospect: I am abundantly certain that we could have learned a helluva a lot more about Zuckerberg and what’s going on behind his walled garden if Congressional leaders could simply ask a question and then stop talking.


Enough with the apologies

Perhaps one of the most interesting of exchanges on the day, at least in terms of the need for more government oversight, was not an exchange at all – but rather Rep. Jan Schakowsky reading a list of apologies from Mark Zuckerberg over the years -going back as far as Harvard in 2003.

She started off saying,“You have a long history of growth and success, but you also have a long list of apologies.” and ended it with “It seems to me from this history… that self-regulation simply does not work.”

Zuck: My Data was also affected by Cambridge Analytica

California Representative Anna Eshoo grilled Zuckerberg in an exchange concerning whether the Facebook CEO’s own personal data was among what was sold to Cambridge Analytica incident.

Eshoo pressed hard on when they contacted Cambridge Analytica after learning of the problem.

Perhaps the key takeaway: Congressional leadership doesn’t really let people answer a question before interrupting them.

Facebook is “no longer the company you started in your dorm.” Racism issues addressed

Zuckerberg referred to Facebook’s Harvard dorm room origins both Tuesday and Wednesday. Rep. Bobby Rush discounted that as the past questioned the handling of responsibility and tried to talk about discriminating setting (which Facebook yanked) before running out of time.

Leadership Diversity Questioned

Personal data wasn’t the only topic of the day as several members of Congress sought to address other issues. Rep. G. K. Butterfield pressed Zuckerberg on the lack of diversity in the tech industry.

Holding up a screenshot of Zuck and his all-white management team, Butterfield queried, Why are there no people of color on your leadership team?”

Again, in the parent-like tone that has pervaded the testimony, Butter

Later, Representative Yvette Clarke highlighted how Russia’s misinformation campaign attempted to stoke “racial and religious division and chaos” and if the lack of diverse leadership at Facebook had made that possible. Zuckerberg said that it was not a factor, explaining that in general “we were slow to identify the whole Russian misinformation situation.”

Clark was focused on the large number of Russian ads bought on Facebook, that framed African American groups like Black Lives Matter as a rising threat to intimidate white voters.

“I’m concerned that there are not eyes that are culturally competent looking at these things and being able to see how this would impact civil society,” she said. “If everyone within the organization is monolithic, then you can miss these things very easily.”

How do you not know stuff, man?

In a seemingly tedious display, Representative Debbie Dingell slammed Zuck for what he doesn’t know whether than asking him about what he knows – “As CEO, you didn’t know some key facts.”

A lot of it was statistical stuff that came off as grandstanding – how could he be expected to recite that kind of stuff off the top of his head?

Should we be worried about the future?

At the 3-minute mark, Dingell does managed get to a good question on whether there will be more surprises coming in terms of privacy issues – “it’s taken almost three years” to hear about the current issue, and “I am concerned about that.”

Zuck: “We’re now going to investigate every single app,” and speculated that they will find some apps that violated people’s privacy.

Is Facebook a media Company?

Chairman Walden opened his questioning by asking Zuckerberg if Facebook is a media company.

Zuck said no, it’s technology company, even though it pays to create content. He went on to emphasize, however, that in the end, that Facebook is responsible for the content on the platform.

Same Privacy as Europe requires?

Rep. Gene Green put Zuckerberg on the spot on uniform privacy policy.

“In recent days you’ve said that Facebook intends to make the same settings available to users everywhere, not only in Europe. Did I understand correctly that Facebook would not only make the same settings available but that it will make the same protections available that they will make the Europeans?”

Zuck replied that “all the same controls” will be there.

Green pressed: “And you commit today that Facebook will extend the same protections to Americans that Europeans will receive under the GDPR?”

Zuck replied “Yes”.

Who will protect us from Facebook?

On the European model of privacy, later on, Rep. Schakowsky followed up on the issue and Zuckerberg equivocated about the GDPR.

“Is your response that exactly the protections that are guaranteed, not just the controls but all the rights required under the General Data Protection Regulations will be applied to Americans as well?”, she asked.

Zuck: “Congresswoman, the GDPR has a bunch of different important pieces. One is offering controls over — that we’re doing. The second is around pushing for affirmative consent and putting a control in front of people that walks people through their choices. We’re going to do that, too. … We’re going to put a tool at the top of people’s apps that walks them through their settings… ”

Green cut him off “It sounds like it will not be exact.”

Unfortunately, her time ran out of time before she could press him any further – but she did get a nice closing jab in – asking “Who is going to protect us from Facebook?”

Mic drop

You can watch the all the testimony here.


 
 

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