Mark Zuckerberg, founding president of the social network Facebook, appeared on Tuesday before the United States Senate to respond to the accusations linked to the violation of user privacy.
The CEO took responsibility for the events from the beginning of the interpellation and issued an apology for what happened, "We did not do enough (...) We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility." With these words the businessman admitted, before the commissions of commerce, justice, science and technology of the Congress, what happened while pointing out that "it was my mistake and I’m sorry".
Zuckerberg's appearance is based on the research carried out around the so-called "Cambridge Analytica Case", that is, the firm that harvested the data of more than 87 million voters without their knowledge. A breach of privacy recognized by the founder of Facebook, "I’m responsible for what happens here."
Cambridge Analytica, data company that has been credited with helping the current US president’s election campaign and it is claimed that it help Donald Trump win the elections, is involved in the massive leak of user data from the social network, a conflict that adds to the expansion of Russian propaganda in the presidential elections of 2016.
33 year-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, before the magnanimity of the action broke his own style and way. He left t-shirts behind to make way for a complete suit that included the use of a tie. However, he did not let himself be intimidated by the harshness of the questions and he was ready to answer each one of them. The CEO of Facebook will spend two days answering questions from lawmakers.
It is the first time that Zuckerberg personally sits down to answer the questions of the Congress, instead of sending a manager.
The joint hearing on Tuesday was conducted by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee. Zuckerberg will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m. ET.
"One of my greatest regrets in running the company is that we were slow in identifying the Russian information operations in 2016," he said.
The representatives of the Congress were not flexible. Senator Feinstein told the CEO, "I'm concerned that Facebook learned about this breach in 2015, but appears not to have taken significant steps to address it." In the same tone, Senator Grassley said, "It was a clearly breach of consumer trust and a likely improper transfer of data". Another of the direct questions was made by Congressman Nelson, "Why did Facebook fail to notify in 2015 the 87 million users that their personal information had been stolen?" he said.
The use of social networks in the political sphere of the country was one of the main issues questioned as well as the so-called false news or information. In this regard the young entrepreneur stressed that the mere fact of thinking about the possible influence on these issues "is a pretty crazy idea".
Looking to the future, Zuckerberg said that they are working on an extensive research process to determine which applications could have access to their data, if once the process is completed some anomaly is detected, they will perform a complete audit and will use thousands of data processors to monitor the content and offer security to Facebook users.
"By the end of this year we will have more than 20,000 people working on security and content review on Facebook," he said.
Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, questioned Zuckerberg today about his employees' relationships with Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm linked to US President Donald Trump’s campaign.
When asked if employees of the company were involved with Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 presidential campaign, Zuckerberg said he did not know, although they did "help".
"I know that we did help out the Trump campaign overall in sales support, in the same way that we do with all other campaigns," he said.
The questions to Facebook transcend the walls of Congress and users have launched a campaign discrediting against the social network with the use of the hashtag #DeleteFacebook. The consequences have been reflected in economic terms since the value of their shares have shown a downward trend, but since the beginning of his statements today, Facebook closed with an increase of 4.5% which seems a sign of Wall Street’s confidence in the CEO of Facebook.
This is the best percentage gain in Facebook shares since 2016. In fact, they increased by 2% even before Zuckerberg sat before Congress. And they continued increasing when he started addressing some of lawmakers’ tough questions.
"My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together. Advertisers and developers will never take priority over that as long as I’m running Facebook," said the founder of the social network.
However, Zuckerberg acknowledged to the senators that "it is not enough" for his company just to "connect people", but he has to "make sure those connections are positive" and protect our privacy.
"We face a number of important issues around privacy, safety and democracy, and you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer," he said.
Zuckerberg promised the senators to make reforms ithin his company in order to increase those protections, and considered that protecting people's information is "a basic responsibility" that was breached with Cambridge Analytica’s abuse.
The CEO of the social network also listed a series of actions that are taken, such as "the investigation of the tens of thousands of apps" connected to the platform.
"And if we find any suspicious activity, we’re going to conduct a full audit of those apps to understand how they’re using their data and if they’re doing anything improper," he said.