Politics

Zuckerberg Testimony: 5 Things You Should Know So Far

Questioning ranges from chocolate to Palantir

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing on “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data” on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

1. Mea culpa

“I’m sorry,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during his opening remarks to a Senate hearing. The social media wunderkind took responsibility for the violations of Facebook users’ data privacy.

It set the tone for the questioning, signaling to senators that Zuckerberg came to Washington to cooperate — or at least give the appearance of doing so. If a February deep dive by WIRED is true, Zuck and Co. are soul-searching.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees on the protection of user data in Hart Building on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees on the protection of user data in Hart Building on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Some of the Most Colorful Moments of Zuckerberg’s First Hill Hearing

2. Foreign influence

Zuckerberg told Senate Judiciary ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that making sure foreign actors don’t misuse Facebook to influence U.S. midterm elections is his top priority.

There may be a connection between the millions of users whose data was taken by Cambridge Analytica and those who were exposed to ads backed by the Internet Research Agency, Zuckerberg said.

“You know, you can’t just give people a voice,” he told the Atlantic earlier this week. “You need to also make sure that that voice is not used for foreign interference in elections or disseminating fake news.”

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., questions Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing on “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data” on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., questions Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing on “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data” on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

3. Chocolate, Chicken, Palantir

There was a wide range of questions. Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson wanted to know if users could turn off ads for chocolate. His Texas colleague , Republican Ted Cruz, pushed Zuckerberg on whether the company shut down a Chick-fil-A appreciation page. The line of questioning — and the room — shifted when Washington Democratic Senator and former RealNetworks executive Maria Cantwell began her query. Cantwell fired a series of questions related to Palantir and its relationship to Facebook. Palantir is an American tech company that makes software heavily used by U.S. intelligence and military for large-scale information gathering and analysis.

Mark Zuckerberg Senate testimony. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

4. Regulation

Zuckerberg said he’s open to right kinds of regulations on Facebook and data privacy and promised Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. he would send proposed regulations.

Read more about the Facebook lobbying team from CQ’s Kate Ackley.

Mark Zuckerberg arrives for Senate questioning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

5. Demoted to C-SPAN 3

The Zuckerberg hearing played on C-SPAN 1 for the first three hours of the grilling but was later demoted to C-SPAN 3. Why? Both chambers of Congress are in session and votes were scheduled. Legislators gonna legislate. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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