As it happenedended1523431577

Zuckerberg hearing : Facebook CEO says firm is in 'arms race' with Russia and is working with Mueller election probe - as it happened

Data abuse scandal threatens to harm the social network forever

Andrew Griffin,Anthony Cuthbertson
Tuesday 10 April 2018 23:38
Comments
Mark Zuckerberg hearing: 'It was my mistake. And I'm sorry.'

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced more than five hours of questions from the joint Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees over the privacy and the use of citizen's data..

The long-awaited showdown – one of the first times that Mr Zuckerberg has spoken publicly since a data scandal hit – saw nearly half the US Senate, 44 legislators, interrogate Mr about an issue that threatens to permanently damage the site he co-founded.

Mr Zuckerberg agreed to testify in Congress after revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with Donald Trump's presidential campaign, was sold access to personal information from 87 million Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica denies any laws were broken

In his testimony, Mr Zuckerberg disclosed that his company is “working with” special counsel Robert Mueller in the federal probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign — and working hard to change its own policies.

“We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake," he said. "It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here.”

Please allow a moment for the live blog to load.

Mr Zuckerberg apologised for his company's errors in failing to better protect the personal information of its millions of users, a controversy that has brought a flood of bad publicity and sent the company's stock value plunging. However, as he answered questions, Facebook shares surged and closed up 4.5 per cent for the day, the biggest gain in two years.

Mr Zuckerberg said it had been “clearly a mistake” to believe the data-mining company Cambridge Analytica had deleted user data that it had - although Analytica said on Tuesday that it had deleted all the data. Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook had considered the data collection “a closed case” because it thought the information had been discarded and therefor that is why it did not inform users when it became aware of the data use in 2015.

The Facebook founder said the company is going through “a broader philosophical shift in how we approach our responsibility.” He said the company needs to take a “more proactive role” that includes ensuring the tools it creates are used in “good and healthy” ways.

He denied that Facebook, which has more than two billion monthly users across the world, was a monopoly. “It certainly doesn't feel that way to me,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

The billionaire appeared mostly comfortable with the questioning, with some senators struggling with some aspects of the technology. Although Mr Zuckerberg was at points to point out repeatedly that Facebook "does not sell" advertising and that users "have full control" over the data they provide.

Asked about the prospect of regulation, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mr Zuckerberg said that his company would back "the right regulation".

Mr Graham asked whether the company "would work" with Congress to craft that regulation, to which Mr Zuckerberg replied: “Absolutely.”

Agencies contributed to this report

1523350246

We know at least some of what Zuckerberg will say today, because his preliminary remarks have already been given to Congress. They include the fact that he will take complete responsibility and apologise for data abuse, and that Facebook will add so much security measures that it will end up "significantly" hitting its profits.

Andrew Griffin10 April 2018 09:50
1523350306

Mark Zuckberg hasn't come off especially well from this controversy. Which is presumably some of the reason he's been undergoing special training to ensure that nothing goes wrong during his evidence today.

Andrew Griffin10 April 2018 09:51
1523352243

A lot of people are talking up the importance of today's hearings. The Verge says "the stakes couldn’t be higher", and the Guardian quotes a former Obama administration official as saying: "Congress is theatre. More than what they are going to want to learn [about the data lapses], they are going to want to inflict pain".

(The flip side is that a lot of people talked up the importance of the Comey hearings, too, and they amounted to nothing. Plus Mr Zuckerberg has been aggressively PR trained, and has a message that is likely to be quite disarming: he's sorry, it won't happen again, and he's spending money to make sure it won't.)

Andrew Griffin10 April 2018 10:24
1523355909

What's happening with Facebook's message, which it says will eventually show to every user and tell them about whether they've had their data harvested or not? It's not clear. It was supposed to be rolling out from 5pm UK time yesterday – but very few people seem to have actually seen it...

Andrew Griffin10 April 2018 11:25
1523367385

Here's a take from Reuters' Dustin Volz, who writes that there's little hope for action off the back of today's hearings. That's less exciting than some of the more excitable chatter around today – but it's also what's happened every time there's one of these set piece Congress questionings.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's No. 1 mission during his appearance before U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday will be to defend against calls to regulate internet-based companies.

The prospect of new laws that restrict Facebook and other internet companies, however, is extremely unlikely not only because of a lack of political will and the effective lobbying of technology companies but because few lawmakers want to grapple with the sheer complexity of the technical issues involved.

Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees.

He is confronting combined outrage over how Russia used Facebook to spread divisive political propaganda during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and how Facebook seemed unaware that a political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, improperly harvested personal data of about 87 million Facebook users, most of them Americans.

Senator Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said on Monday that while he believed new regulation was needed in the face of Facebook's twin scandals, he did not expect anything substantive to happen.

He attributed that in part to the format for Tuesday's joint hearing before the Senate's Commerce and Judiciary committees that will give Zuckerberg an advantage, saying it would favor spectacle over thoughtful dialogue.

"How in the world can you have 44 senators do a hearing that has a lot of substance when each senator only has four minutes?" Nelson asked reporters on Monday.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters after speaking with 33-year-old Zuckerberg, that he "was a very nice young man" who "obviously knows what he's doing and has a very pleasant personality."

PRIVACY ADVOCATES OUTNUMBERED

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders declined to say on Monday if new regulations were needed. âI don't have a specific policy announcement on that front, but I think we're all looking forward to that testimony.â

Republicans are generally against more corporate regulation and they are not persuaded that tech companies need more of it. âI donât want to hurt Facebook. I donât want to regulate them half to death,â said Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, a member of the Judiciary Committee âBut we have a problem. Our promised digital utopia has minefields in it.â

Companies that have been victimized by computer hacks have been accused by lawmakers of failing to take adequate security measures to protect their customers' personal information.

Senior executives from a host of companies including Target Corp, Alphabet's Google, United Airlines and Equifax, have testified before Congress on a variety of issues including network security and walked away with little more than a scolding and a temporary dip in stock price.

Powerful lobbying forces assemble against any effort to convert public and political outrage into regulation, privacy advocates have said. Facebook spent $1.35 million on lobbying in 2011 and six years later spent $11.5 million, according to data maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.

"People have this idea that we are going to pass omnibus privacy legislation and it is going to be a silver bullet," said Alvaro Bedoya, a former congressional aide who worked on privacy issues for former Senator Al Franken. "The reality is lobbyists outnumber consumer privacy advocates in Washington 20 to 1 or 30 to 1."

Instead of major regulatory changes, lawmakers in Congress have offered narrowly focused legislation.

The Honest Ads Act, for instance, aims to address concerns about foreign nationals covertly purchasing ads on social media to influence American politics. It would require political ads on the internet to reveal who paid for them, much the same as ads on television and radio. It legislation has been stalled since its introduction last October, although Facebook endorsed it on Friday.

Congress did pass legislation last month that chipped away at the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which for decades has guarded internet-based companies from liability for what users post on their platforms.

The legislation, which is expected to be signed into law this week by U.S. President Donald Trump, was aimed at penalizing operators of websites that facilitate online sex trafficking. Internet companies have expressed worry that it could be the first step toward dismantling decades of a hands-off regulatory approach by Washington.

Technology industry officials said they also expected Zuckerberg's testimony to be long on political point scoring and short on legislative ideas.

"They don't understand ad targeting and they will probably ask him a bunch of unrelated questions that play to their respective political bases," said one technology industry source, who spoke on condition on anonymity because his company had not authorized him to speak on the matter for the record.

"So Democrats will ask about monopolies and Republicans will ask about anti-conservative bias in Silicon Valley."

Andrew Griffin10 April 2018 14:36
1523368430

Privacy International is running a hashtag campaign today, under #AskZuck. There, it's suggesting – and asking people to suggest – questions that politicians could ask the Facebook boss. Have a look at some of them here.

And the organisation is running another thread that aims to show how companies, like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, are able to use personal data that might look dull to work out important things about people. Read that one here

Andrew Griffin10 April 2018 14:53
1523375534

Here's a report from the Press Association on the legal claims that Facebook and Cambridge Analytica are facing:

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica are facing multiple lawsuits over alleged misuse of personal information as the social media giant began notifying millions of users their data may have been harvested without their knowledge.

At least five law firms in the UK and US are investigating claims for compensation after thousands used an app which collected data about users and their Facebook friends.

Facebook on Tuesday began notifying 87 million people worldwide, including nearly 1.1 million Britons, that their personal information on the platform may have been given to Cambridge Analytica (CA), a UK consultancy accused of using personal data to help politicians target advertising around elections.

CA maintains the total number is closer to 30 million, and insists it did not "illegally or inappropriately" collect or share the data. It adds that it licensed data "on individuals in the United States only" and deleted it once it was told Facebook's terms of use had been broken.

Facebook insists it has not broken any laws, but the tech giant's founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted last week that the company "didn't do enough" to prevent firms using his platform "for harm".

Mr Zuckerberg is due to answer questions from US Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday over the scandal of how users' data may have been used by CA to help Donald Trump's election campaign target voters.

Ravi Naik, from ITN Solicitors in London which is pursuing legal action on behalf of clients, said: "Facebook has taken the first step to accountability, which is accepting there is a problem. But they need to explain what they are going to do to compensate people for the breaches and remedy the problem."

Lawyers from ITN Solicitors, Leigh Day and McCue & Partners in the UK, and RuyakCherian, Fields and Cross & Simon in the US are all pursuing legal action on behalf of clients.

Mr Naik said his firm will be seeking clarification about how Facebook knows which users were affected by the breach and exactly what information was transferred.

A number of people posted screengrabs of messages they had received from the social network on Tuesday, saying either that they were unaffected, or that their information may have been harvested as a result of them or one or more of their friends using the quiz app This Is Your Digital Life, from which the information was collected.

Matt Rose, who runs a marketing and content agency in London, said he did not receive a notification from Facebook, as the firm had promised, and only found out his personal information had ended up in the hands of CA after looking for it himself.

He told the Press Association: "I think we are all used to knowing that the actions we take online are monitored, but not that the actions other people take can have a direct effect on us and our data, whether we like it or not."

In telling users if they were affected, Facebook says the "public profile, Page likes, birthday and current city" was "likely shared" through the app, but added: "A small number of people who logged into This Is Your Digital Life also shared their own News Feed, timeline, posts and messages which may have included posts and messages from you. They may also have shared your hometown."

Facebook stopped allowing app developers to collect information from users' friends in 2014. It declined to comment on the proposed legal action.

Andrew Griffin10 April 2018 16:52
1523375647

Here's the background on what you can expect from Zuckerberg today, from AP:

After privately assuring senators that his company will do better, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is undergoing a two-day congressional inquisition that will be very public — and possibly pivotal for the massive social networking company he created. 

Zuckerberg visited with senators in closed-door meetings Monday, previewing the public apology he plans to give Congress on Tuesday after revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with Donald Trump's presidential campaign, gathered personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections. 

He's apologized many times already, to users and the public, but it is the first time in his career that he has gone before Congress. Zuckerberg will testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees on Tuesday and before a House panel on Wednesday. 

In the hearings, Zuckerberg will not only try to restore public trust in his company but also stave off federal regulation that some lawmakers have floated. In prepared testimony released Monday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which he is expected to deliver Wednesday, Zuckerberg apologizes for fake news, hate speech, a lack of data privacy and Russian social media interference in the 2016 elections. 

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake," he says in the remarks. "It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here." 

After resisting previous calls to testify, Zuckerberg agreed to come to Capitol Hill this month after reports surfaced — and the company confirmed — that Cambridge Analytica had gathered Facebook users' data. In the remarks, Zuckerberg said his company has a responsibility to make sure what happened with Cambridge Analytica doesn't happen again. 

Zuckerberg is also expected to be asked about Russia's use of U.S. social media during the 2016 elections — a subject of several congressional investigations and special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference. 

In the statement, Zuckerberg addresses Russian election interference and acknowledges, as he has in the past, that the company was too slow to respond and that it's "working hard to get better." The company has said that as many as 146 million people may have received information from a Russian agency that's accused of orchestrating much of the cyber meddling in the election. 

"We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference, and we will do our part not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, but also to give everyone a voice and to be a force for good in democracy everywhere," Zuckerberg continues. 

In the testimony, Zuckerberg acknowledges that the questioning will likely be hostile. 

"We face a number of important issues around privacy, safety, and democracy, and you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer," Zuckerberg says. 

The prepared remarks do not reveal new information about how data was shared or what Facebook will do. In addition to saying he is sorry, Zuckerberg outlines the steps the company has taken to restrict outsiders' access to people's personal information. He also says the company is investigating every app that had access to a large amount of information before the company moved to prevent such access in 2014 — something that came too late in the Cambridge Analytica case. 

Zuckerberg met Monday with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce panel. Nelson said afterward that Zuckerberg was "forthright and honest to the degree he could" be in the private, one-on-one meeting. 

Nelson said he believes Zuckerberg is taking the congressional hearings seriously "because he knows there is going to be a hard look at regulation." 

Democrats like Nelson have argued that federal laws might be necessary to ensure user privacy. Republicans so far have shown little appetite for such regulation, but that could change if there are future privacy scandals or Democrats gain control of Congress in this November's elections. 

"I think he understands that regulation could be right around the corner," Nelson said. 

Zuckerberg was also scheduled to meet with Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., ahead of Tuesday's hearing. 

Separately, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post Monday that the company is establishing an independent election research commission that will look into the effects of social media on elections and democracy. He said the commission will work with foundations across the U.S. to set up a committee of academic experts who will come up with research topics and select independent researchers to study them

Andrew Griffin10 April 2018 16:54
1523375747

Just coincidental, I'm sure, but Facebook has launched a data abuse bounty programme to reward people if they find developers who are breaking the site's rules on data.

The announcement comes ahead of two days of congressional hearings starting on Tuesday, where Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg will be asked how up to 87 million Facebook users' data was improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The program will reward people with first-hand knowledge and evidence of a Facebook platform app collecting and transferring user data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence.

Andrew Griffin10 April 2018 16:55
1523381396

Those in Congress are already letting the public know what they want to see from Mr Zuckerberg's appearance today, including this from Democrat Senator Mark Warner, of Virginia.

Steve Anderson10 April 2018 18:29

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in