Zuckerberg Meets Trump, Senators, Nixes Breaking Up Facebook

 

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg met Thursday with US President Donald Trump and members of Congress on a political reconnaissance mission to Washington, where he rejected calls to break up the world’s biggest social network.

Zuckerberg’s visit comes as Facebook faces a myriad of regulatory and legal questions surrounding issues like competition, digital privacy, censorship and transparency in political advertising.

A Facebook spokesman said discussions were focusing in part on future internet regulation.

Senate Democrat Mark Warner, one of the lawmakers who has taken the lead in Washington on digital security, signalled they gave Zuckerberg an earful.

The visit, including a Wednesday night private dinner with Warner and other lawmakers, comes after his stormy appearance last year before Congress, where he was grilled on Facebook’s data protection and privacy missteps.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican freshman and one of the more outspoken critics of Facebook, said he had a “frank conversation” with Zuckerberg but remains concerned.

“Challenged him to do two things to show FB is serious about bias, privacy & competition. 1) Sell WhatsApp & Instagram 2) Submit to independent, third-party audit on censorship,” Hawley tweeted.

“He said no to both.”

Trump late Thursday posted a picture on Facebook and Twitter showing him shaking hands with Zuckerberg, but didn’t share details of their conversation.

“Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in the Oval Office today,” the president wrote.

Federal and state anti-trust enforcers are looking into potential anti-competitive actions by Facebook, and members of Congress are debating national privacy legislation.

The messaging product WhatsApp and picture-sharing giant Instagram are part of Facebook’s broad family of services that has made it a global online behemoth, but have also exposed the company to concerns about competition, data harvesting and sprawling digital control.

Warner said he was not prepared to call for Facebook’s dismantlement.

“I’m not yet with some of my friends who want to go straight to break up,” he told Fox Business Network.

“I am concerned. These are global companies, and I don’t want to transfer the leadership to Chinese companies,” he added.

“But I do think we need a lot more transparency. We need to have privacy rights protected. We need to increase competition with things like data portability and interoperability.”

Two months ago, the US Federal Trade Commission hit Facebook with a record $5 billion fine for data protection violations in a wide-ranging settlement that calls for revamping privacy controls and oversight at the social network.

Earlier Wednesday, executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared before a Senate panel to answer questions on “digital responsibility” in the face of online violence and extremism.

New Facebook Panel Can Overrule Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the F8 summit at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on May 1, 2018. JOSH EDELSON / AFP

 

Facebook said on Tuesday it has finalised its charter for its “independent oversight board,” giving the panel the authority to overrule chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on questions of appropriate content.

The new entity, based on Zuckerberg’s call for a “supreme court” that would make difficult calls on what is suitable content for Facebook, is moving closer to reality with the charter released by the social network.

Zuckerberg said in a statement the independent panel would have the final say on these matters of what belongs on the social platform.

“If someone disagrees with a decision we’ve made, they can appeal to us first, and soon they will be able to further appeal to this independent board,” he said.

“The board’s decision will be binding, even if I or anyone at Facebook disagrees with it.”

Facebook will also create a separate “independent trust” that will act as a conduit for funding and ensure the oversight panel is not subject to influence from company executives.

“The majority of people we consulted supported our decision to establish an independent trust,” Facebook governance chief Brent Harris said.

“They felt that this could help ensure the board’s independence, while also providing a means to provide additional accountability checks. The trust will provide the infrastructure to support and compensate the board.”

The charter, a nine-page document, sets rules for the new panel of up to 40 members. Facebook said earlier this year it was ready to open nominations after consultations in 88 countries.

Facebook’s initiative comes amid intense pressure around the world for the social platform used by more than two billion people to root out abusive content, manipulation and hoaxes, while remaining open to free expression.

The new entity will focus solely on content moderation and not on other questions such as algorithmic feed ranking or artificial intelligence.

“The board will be an advocate for our community — supporting people’s right to free expression, and making sure we fulfil our responsibility to keep people safe,” Zuckerberg wrote on Tuesday.

“As an independent organization, we hope it gives people confidence that their views will be heard, and that Facebook doesn’t have the ultimate power over their expression.”

AFP

Facebook Tightens Live-Streaming In Crackdown On Violence

 

Facebook announced on Wednesday it is tightening access to livestreaming to prevent the rampant sharing of graphic video as took place with the Christchurch massacre.

People who have broken certain rules, including those against “dangerous organizations and individuals,” will be restricted from using the Facebook Live streaming feature, said vice president of integrity Guy Rosen.

“Following the horrific recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand, we’ve been reviewing what more we can do to limit our services from being used to cause harm or spread hate,” he said in a statement.

READ ALSO: WhatsApp Hack: A Latest Breach Of Personal Data Security

A self-described white supremacist gunned down 51 people at two Christchurch mosques in March, and broadcast live footage of the violence on Facebook from a head-mounted camera.

A “one-strike” policy at Facebook Live will be applied to a broader range of offenses, with those who violate serious policies suspended from using the feature after a single offense.

Such violations would include sharing a link to a statement from a terrorist group with no context, according to Rosen.

“We plan on extending these restrictions to other areas over the coming weeks, beginning with preventing those same people from creating ads on Facebook,” Rosen said.

He added that technical innovation is needed to get ahead of the kind of “adversarial media manipulation” seen after the New Zealand mosque massacre, such as users modifying videos in order to slip past filters.

“One of the challenges we faced in the days after the attack was a proliferation of many different variants of the video of the attack,” Rosen said.

“People — not always intentionally — shared edited versions of the video which made it hard for our systems to detect.”

Facebook announced that it was putting $7.5 million into research partnerships with three US universities to improve image and video analysis technology.

“This work will be critical for our broader efforts against manipulated media, including deepfakes,” Rosen said, a reference to videos altered using artificial intelligence.

“We hope it will also help us to more effectively fight organized bad actors who try to outwit our systems as we saw happen after the Christchurch attack.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed the move as “a good first step”.

“The March 15 terrorist highlighted just how easily livestreaming can be misused for hate. Facebook has made a tangible first step to stop that act being repeated on their platform,” she said.

Ardern was set to join other world leaders in launching the “Christchurch Call” to curb online extremism at an international meeting in Paris on Wednesday.

Top executives from Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Twitter were also expected to attend, though Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was to be represented by another executive from the social media giant.

AFP

Zuckerberg Defends Facebook In New Data Breach Controversy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the annual F8 summit at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on May 1, 2018. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced the world’s largest social network will soon include a new dating feature — while vowing to make privacy protection its top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
JOSH EDELSON / AFP

 

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg pushed back Wednesday against emails showing the social media giant offering Netflix and other popular apps preferential access to people’s data even after it had tightened its privacy rules.

A British parliamentary committee investigating whether the social media behemoth was being used to manipulate the results of elections published 250 pages of internal Facebook documents earlier Wednesday.

They show executives holding discussions about big companies such as Netflix being granted preferential access to user data even after Facebook had tightened its privacy rules in 2014-15.

Zuckerberg featured in one email exchange from 2012 in which he mulled selling the information to developers.

The emails feature in a lawsuit filed against Facebook in a California court by the now-defunct US app developer Six4Three.

They were sealed by the presiding judge but seized by the British committee under a never-before-used parliamentary enforcement procedure last month.

Zuckerberg said he was writing because he did not want the emails to “misrepresent our actions or motives”.

“Like any organization, we had a lot of internal discussion and people raised different ideas,” Zuckerberg said in a message posted on Facebook.

He did not directly address Facebook’s apparent decision to give some of the world’s most popular apps special access to friends lists and other personal information that many people want to keep private.

“Ultimately, we decided on a model where we continued to provide the developer platform for free and developers could choose to buy ads if they wanted,” Zuckerberg wrote.

But he added: “To be clear, that’s different from selling people’s data. We’ve never sold anyone’s data.”

‘Public interest’

The UK parliamentary committee headed by Damian Collins – a member of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party — calls the policy of giving apps privileged information about users “whitelisting”.

“Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data,” Collins wrote in a note accompanying the emails.

“The idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the developers’ relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents.”

The emails show Facebook holding “whitelisting” discussions with the Russian-founded dating service Wadoo and US giants such as Netflix and the cab-hailing service Lyft.

Most of the emails released by Collins were from years before Facebook had tightened its privacy policy rules.

Collins said his decision to ignore the US court gagging order and release the exchanges was based on “considerable public interest” in their content.

“We need a more public debate about the rights of social media users and the smaller businesses who are required to work with the tech giants,” he wrote in a Twitter post.

Zuckerberg did not condemn the emails’ publication or threaten any reciprocal measures against Collins.

“I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“That’s healthy given the vast number of people who use our services around the world.”

Mark Zuckerberg Clarifies His Holocaust Comments

Mark Zuckerberg (2nd from R), chief executive officer of Facebook, speaks with (L-R) Felicia Horowitz, founder of Horowitz Family Foundation and wife of venture capitalist Ben Horowitz, Thomas Staggs, at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive weeklong conference. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has found himself at the centre of a fresh row after saying the social network should not prohibit posts which deny the Holocaust.

In a podcast interview with tech website Recode on Wednesday, Zuckerberg said that while Facebook was dedicated to stopping the spread of fake news, certain beliefs that were sincerely held would not be taken down.

After the remarks caused a backlash on social media, he was forced to backtrack, saying if any post advocated violence or hate against a group, it would be removed.

The controversy began when Zuckerberg provided an unprompted example of Holocaust deniers to Recode host Kara Swisher to make a point about allowing hoaxes to be published on the site.

He said that messages accusing victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting of being liars would be taken down for harassment, but added that not all factually incorrect posts would receive the same treatment.

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” he said.

“I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”

After Swisher interjected that Holocaust deniers may indeed be motivated by malign intent, Zuckerberg continued:

“It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do. I’m sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too.”

The comments caused a stir, with many seeing Zuckerberg‘s foray into the contentious debate as problematic.

Zuckerberg later emailed Recode to clarify, stating that if something is spreading and rated as false by the site’s fact checkers, “it would lose the vast majority of its distribution in News Feed.

“And of course if a post crossed (the) line into advocating for violence or hate against a particular group, it would be removed.”

The episode was an unwelcome distraction for Facebook after it held a briefing on the company’s new policy to remove bogus posts likely to spark violence.

The new tactic being rolled out across the global social network was tested in Sri Lanka, which was recently rocked by inter-religious violence over false information posted on the platform.

A spokesman announced Facebook may remove inaccurate or misleading content, such as doctored photos, created or shared to stir up or ignite volatile situations in the real world.

Hate speech and threats deemed credible are violations of Facebook rules and are removed.

The new policy advances another step, by eliminating content that may not be explicitly violent but which seems likely to encourage such behaviour.

AFP

‘I’m Sorry’, Facebook Boss Tells European Lawmakers

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the annual F8 summit at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on May 1, 2018. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced the world’s largest social network will soon include a new dating feature — while vowing to make privacy protection its top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
JOSH EDELSON / AFP

 

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg apologised to the European Parliament on Tuesday and said the social media giant is taking steps to prevent a repeat of a massive breach of users’ personal data.

Zuckerberg also pledged to keep investing in Europe as he made the latest stop on a tour of contrition over the Cambridge Analytica scandal that began in the US Congress in April.

Zuckerberg told the livestreamed hearing in Brussels that it has become clear in the last two years that Facebook executives “haven’t done enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm”.

“And that goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections or developers misusing people’s information. We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility,” he said.

“That was a mistake, and I’m sorry for it.”

Facebook admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.

The Silicon Valley giant has told the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, that the personal data of up to 2.7 million Europeans may have been sent inappropriately to Cambridge Analytica, which has since filed for bankruptcy in the US.

The Facebook chief welcomed the EU’s sweeping new personal data protection rules, which come into effect in three days, saying that his website was adopting similar steps.

– ‘Keeping people safe’ –

Zuckerberg said Facebook was bringing in new features including a special “clear history” button that would allow them to delete any cookies or browsing history details it stores.

He also told the leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups that Facebook would make fresh investments to protect its users in the wake of the scandal.

“It’s going to take time to work through all of the changes we must make. But I’m committed to getting it right, and to making the significant investments needed to keep people safe,” he added.

“I expect this will significantly impact our profitability. But I want to be clear: keeping people safe will always be more important than maximising our profits.”

Zuckerberg meanwhile admitted that Facebook had been “too slow to identify Russian interfering” in the 2016 US presidential ballot, but was working with European governments for future elections.

Facebook also serves a valuable social role with tens of thousands of people having used its Safety Check feature “after the recent terrorist attacks in Berlin, Paris, London and here in Brussels”, Zuckerberg said.

The Facebook chief staged a U-turn on Monday and agreed to the hearing being webcast, in a further bid to limit the fallout from the data scandal.

Angry EU lawmakers had objected to initial plans for it to be held behind closed doors.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who welcomed Zuckerberg to parliament, urged him to ensure people’s data was respected.

In April, Tajani rejected Zuckerberg’s initial offer to send a more junior executive in his place, saying it would be a “big mistake” for him not to answer questions from an elected body that regulates a market of 500 million people, many of them Facebook users.

Tajani said MEPs want to know if “people used data for changing the position of the citizens”, including during the shock 2016 referendum for Britain to leave the EU.

– ‘Hear the truth’ –

Objecting to a closed-door hearing, MEPs insisted Zuckerberg face a grilling similar to his 10-hour interrogation in US Congress last month.

Guy Verhofstadt, who heads the ALDE liberals group in parliament, dropped his plan to boycott the event now that it would be “transparent and public”.

Inviting Europeans to send him questions for Zuckerberg, Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, tweeted that EU citizens “deserve to hear the truth”.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova recently paid Zuckerberg a backhanded compliment for having admitted that the Facebook scandal showed the need for strict new rules despite the reluctance of US internet giants.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on Friday, aims to give users more control over how their personal information is stored and used online, with big fines for firms that break the rules.

Zuckerberg, who has repeatedly apologised for the massive data breach, told the US Congress in April that the more stringent EU rules could serve as a model globally.

Facebook Boss Faces European Parliament Over Data Scandal

Facebook Suicide, Murder Videos Heart-breaking - Zuckerberg
File photo of Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg

 

Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg, will face tough questions later on Tuesday at the European Parliament over the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal.

The social network boss’s appearance will be live-streamed to the public after angry EU lawmakers objected to initial plans to host the hearing in Brussels behind closed doors.

His grilling by the heads of the parliament’s political groups at around 1630 GMT comes three days before the EU introduces sweeping new personal data protection rules, which the Facebook chief has now welcomed.

“Great news for EU citizens,” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani tweeted on Monday about the decision to stream the hearing after days of bitter wrangling.

MEPs had demanded that Zuckerberg show the transparency the scandal calls for.

Facebook admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.

The Silicon Valley social network has told the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, that the personal data of up to 2.7 million Europeans may have been sent inappropriately to Cambridge Analytica, which has since filed for bankruptcy in the US.

Tajani, who first invited the young American billionaire to testify before parliament back in March, will meet him around 1600 GMT, followed by parliamentary leaders.

The Italian politician has warned Zuckerberg it would be a “big mistake” for him not to answer questions from an elected body that regulates a market of 500 million people, many of them Facebook users.

Tajani said MEPs want to know if “people used data for changing the position of the citizens,” including during the shock 2016 referendum for Britain to leave the EU.

In April, Tajani rejected Zuckerberg’s initial offer to send a more junior executive in his place.

Objecting to the latest plans for a closed-door hearing, MEPs insisted Zuckerberg face a grilling similar to his 10-hour interrogation in US Congress last month.

‘Hear the truth’

Guy Vehofstadt, leader of the ALDE liberals group in parliament, had vowed to boycott the interrogation if it were not public.

“I will attend the hearing with Mr Zuckerberg as webstreaming makes it now transparent and public,” Verhofstadt tweeted on Monday.

“EU citizens have been most affected by the recent scandal and deserve to hear the truth,” the former Belgian premier said, inviting Europeans to send him questions for Zuckerberg.

Udo Bullmann, of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, said it would have been a “farce” not to have a public event.

The Greens party said “pressure worked” on Zuckerberg.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova paid Zuckerberg a backhanded compliment in recent weeks for having admitted that the Facebook scandal showed the need for strict new rules despite the reluctance of the US internet giants.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on Friday, aims to give users more control over how their personal information is stored and used online, with big fines for firms that break the rules.

The laws will cover large tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter that use personal data as an advertising goldmine, as well as firms like banks and also public bodies.

Zuckerberg, who has repeatedly apologised for the massive data breach, told the US Congress in April that the more stringent EU rules could serve as a model globally.

AFP

Zuckerberg Unveils Plans For Facebook Dating Service

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced the world’s largest social network will soon include a new dating feature — while vowing to make privacy protection its top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. JOSH EDELSON / AFP

 

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday the world’s largest social network will soon include a new dating feature — while vowing to make privacy protection its top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Zuckerberg unveiled the plans as he addressed Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California — emphasizing that the focus would be on helping people find long-term partners.

“This is going to be for building real, long-term relationships, not just hookups,” Zuckerberg said in presenting the new feature, noting that one in three marriages in the United States starts online — and that some 200 million Facebook users identify as being single.

Under the new feature, users will be able to create a separate “dating” profile not visible to their network of friends, with potential matches recommended based on dating preferences, points in common and mutual acquaintances.

It will be free of charge, in line with Facebook’s core offering. The announcement sent shares in the online dating giant Match.com tumbling, finishing the formal trading day down 22 percent.

The 33-year-old CEO also said the dating offer was built from the ground up with privacy and safety in mind, as he underscored the firm’s commitment to boosting privacy protections.

Facebook’s closely-watched developer conference comes as the giant faces intense global scrutiny over the mass harvesting of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy that worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

Facebook has admitted up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked in the scandal, which saw Zuckerberg grilled at length by the US Congress last month.

“We need to make sure that never happens again,” Zuckerberg told the audience, lightening the talk by sharing that friends made on online streaming video watch party at the social network of his hours testifying before Congress.

‘Clear history’ 

In a related move, Facebook announced an upcoming feature called “Clear History” that will allow users to see which apps and websites send the network information, delete the data from their account, and prevent Facebook from storing it.

The social network has already moved to limit the amount of data it shares with third-party applications and plans further steps to prevent a repeat of the Cambridge Analytica debacle, Zuckerberg said.

Facebook is also reviewing applications overall as well as auditing those that accessed large amounts of data to make sure access isn’t abused, he said.

“Security isn’t a problem than you ever fully solve,” Zuckerberg said, outlining the slew of efforts by Facebook to battle election interference, misinformation, spam among other challenges.

“This is an arms race; we are going to be working to stay ahead of our adversaries forever.”

Zuckerberg’s blend of humour, humility, confidence and determination in a keynote presentation seemed to resonate with the gathering of developers, who credited Facebook with taking responsibility for problems and working on fixing them.

“I respect that they came out with it and didn’t do a cover-up,” said Malik Gillins of Movez, a startup behind an app crafted to streamline social event planning.

CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber was among analysts who felt Zuckerberg struck a successful balance between addressing the data privacy scandal and keeping outside developers focused on building apps to enhance the social network.

“Defiant message from Zuckerberg at #F8,” Blaber wrote on Twitter. “Feels like the first time they’ve been on the front foot in this saga.”

 Message translation 

Facebook separately announced that its popular Messenger app would soon be able to translate missives in real time, deploying artificial intelligence to enable text conversations between people using different languages.

The feature will launch in the United States with English and Spanish translations of conversations in the Marketplace section of Facebook, and will be extended to general Messenger use in coming weeks, the service said in a blog post.

Facebook joins internet giants Amazon, Google and Microsoft in offering artificial-intelligence based translation features — most prominently Google’s Pixel ear buds which promise real-time translation across dozens of languages.

Plans were also revealed to simplify the Messenger app, which critics contend has gotten clunky, and add group voice and video calls to Facebook’s other messaging service WhatsApp.

The slew of announcements at the developer-centric “F8” conference also included the arrival of a stand-alone Oculus Go headset to widen support for virtual reality by supporting social experiences such as watch parties.

AFP

#ZuckerBowl Without A Clear Winner As Facebook Hearings End

#ZuckerBowl Without A Clear Winner As Facebook Hearings End
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018, in Washington, DC.  JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg emerged largely unscathed Wednesday from two days of high-stakes hearings that saw US lawmakers grill the billionaire over how the online giant feeds users’ data to advertisers and chide him over privacy rights.

The marathon 10 hours of questioning was one of the biggest spectacles in Congress in recent memory, followed blow by blow on social media under the hashtags #ZuckerBowl and #ZuckUnderOath.

Channelling public anger over data privacy lapses — including most spectacularly the leak of personal information from 87 million Facebook users to a political consultant — lawmakers in both House and Senate raised the spectre of regulations to bring online firms to heel.

The 33-year-old CEO conceded that some regulation of social media companies is “inevitable,” while offering a laundry list of reform pledges at Facebook and vowing to improve privacy and security.

But he stiffly defended Facebook’s business model — specifically the way it uses data and postings from the 2.2 billion users of its free platform — calling it necessary to attract ad revenue the $480 billion company depends on.

In the wake of the massive leak of user information to Cambridge Analytica, which worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, Zuckerberg reiterated that the company had shut down the pipeline that allowed data — including his own — to slip without consent into the hands of third parties.

A day earlier Zuckerberg took personal responsibility for the data breach.

Yet in his testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he was also steadfast in arguing that Facebook’s users themselves are choosing to make their data available and that the company’s “opt-in” provisions offered them sufficient control.

“Every time that a person chooses to share something on Facebook, they’re proactively going to the service and choosing that they want to share a photo, write a message to someone.”

“Every time there is a control right there,” Zuckerberg said.

– ‘Real trust gap’ –

Zuckerberg faced tougher questions from House lawmakers over Facebook’s stance than during Tuesday’s five-hour session in the Senate, where his defence of data sharing was weakly challenged.

“It strikes me that there’s a real trust gap here. Why should we trust you?” asked Democratic Representative Mike Doyle.

“The only way we’re going to close this trust gap is through legislation that creates and empowers a sufficiently resourced expert oversight agency, with rulemaking authority to protect the digital privacy and ensure that companies protect our users’ data.”

– A path forward –

Some analysts said Zuckerberg’s appearance suggests a new path forward for social media under closer scrutiny.

“Zuckerberg’s testimony demonstrated that the company has matured over the last decade, in particular in his acknowledgement that Facebook is responsible for the content shared on its platform,” said University of Delaware communications professor Dannagal Young.

“Acknowledging responsibility for the content shared on the platform changes how Facebook ought to engage in gatekeeping and fact-checking, and how the government might go about regulating the industry.”

Syracuse University professor Jennifer Grygiel called the hearings “an important milestone.”

“This is a first step in the process of writing much-needed regulation,” she said.

“It is clear from congressional testimony that self-regulation alone is not working and that regulatory oversight is needed in the United States in order to ensure safe social media.”

– ‘Glaring gaps’ in understanding –

Noting that a European data protection standard due to come into effect on May 25 was more stringent than what was currently in place at Facebook, Zuckerberg suggested it could serve as a rough model for US rules in the future.

Facebook is implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standard for European users next month, and some of its rules will be extended to US and other users later, he confirmed.

“The GDPR requires us to do a few more things and we are going to extend that to the world,” he said.

By one measure, Zuckerberg succeeded in his Washington appearance. Facebook shares rose five percent on Tuesday and added another 0.78 percent Wednesday in what was seen as a sign of confidence in the company after steep losses in recent weeks.

“To me, he came across as very conciliatory, especially when he took full responsibility for the mistakes of his company,” said Jessica Vitak, head of the University of Maryland’s Privacy and Education Research Lab.

“This seems to be a relatively new approach for the company and I believe at least in part responding to critique of Facebook’s slow and somewhat tone-deaf response to prior breaches that have led to user outrage.”

Others noted however that lawmakers had demonstrated little knowledge of how Facebook works — potentially complicating any regulatory effort.

“Perhaps the most important revelation of Zuckerberg’s testimony are the glaring gaps in our lawmakers’ understanding of the internal logic and business model of Facebook,” Young said.

“No one is going to be able to sufficiently regulate’ Facebook until lawmakers are adequately educated about how it works.”

AFP

Zuckerberg Not Keen To Reveal Own Personal Info

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 10, 2018. Photo Credit: Win McNamee / POOL / AFP

 

Of the hundreds of questions thrown at Mark Zuckerberg by US lawmakers Tuesday, none appeared to flummox the Facebook founder more than Senator Dick Durbin’s pointed query about where he slept the previous evening.

“Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?” Durbin asked during an intense and closely-watched hearing about online digital privacy, and Facebook’s role in what happens to personal information once users join the platform.

Zuckerberg paused for a full eight seconds, chuckled, grimaced, and ultimately demurred.

“Um, uh, no,” he said.

And “if you’ve messaged anybody this week would you share with us the names of the people you’ve messaged?” the Illinois Democrat persisted.

Again, a similar unwillingness to answer.

Perhaps more than any other senator during five hours of questioning, Durbin’s every man tactic put a finger on the crux of the issue surrounding Facebook’s failure to maintain control of the private information of tens of millions of users, amid a scandal over the gathering of personal data used to target political advertising and messaging during the 2016 presidential race.

“I think that might be what this is all about,” said Durbin, 40 years Zuckerberg’s senior.

“Your right to privacy, the limits of your right to privacy, and how much you give away in modern America in the name of connecting people around the world.”

Zuckerberg, who at 33 runs a multi-billion-dollar company with some two billion users, accepted personal responsibility for the leak of users’ data and vowed that the company will do better in guarding such information.

He also conceded Durbin’s point was a fair one. “I think everyone should have control over how their information is used,” Zuckerberg said.

AFP

We Are In Arms Race With Russia, Says Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg.  Photo Credit: JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg accepted personal responsibility Tuesday for the leak of data on tens of millions of its users, while warning of an “arms race” against Russian disinformation during a high-stakes hearing with US lawmakers.

In his first formal congressional appearance, the Facebook founder and chief executive answered questions for nearly five hours as he sought to quell the storm over privacy and security lapses at the social media giant that have angered lawmakers and the network’s two billion users.

Under mounting pressure over the hijacking of its user data by a British political consultant, Zuckerberg reiterated his apology for the historic breach, before being grilled over how Facebook collects and protects people’s personal information.

“It was my mistake, and I’m sorry,” Zuckerberg said about the improper sharing of 87 million people’s information by Cambridge Analytica, a firm working for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I started Facebook, I run it and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

He added that Facebook fell short in protecting the platform, noting: “That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”

The 33-year-old CEO spoke of a constant struggle to guard against Russian manipulation of the Facebook platform to influence elections in the US and elsewhere.

“There are people in Russia whose job it is to try to exploit our systems and other internet systems and other systems as well,” he said.

“So this is an arms race. They’re going to keep getting better and we need to invest in getting better at this too.”

Zuckerberg has previously acknowledged the social network failed to do enough to prevent the spread of disinformation during the last US presidential race.

The Senate hearing, ahead of another appearance in the House on Wednesday, featured several tense and some friendly exchanges on Facebook’s security, hate speech and other topics.

Of the hundreds of questions he faced, none appeared to flummox him more than Senator Dick Durbin’s pointed query about where he slept the previous evening.

“Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?” Durbin asked.

Zuckerberg paused for a full eight seconds, chuckled, grimaced and ultimately demurred.

“Um, uh, no,” he said.

And “if you’ve messaged anybody this week, would you share with us the names of the people you’ve messaged?” the Illinois Democrat persisted.

Again, a similar unwillingness to answer.

Perhaps more than any other senator during five hours of questioning, Durbin’s everyman tactic put a finger on the crux of the issue surrounding Facebook’s handling of its users’ private data.

Open to regulation

Zuckerberg said he was open to regulation, but cautioned against complex rules that might impact emerging social media firms.

“I think the internet is becoming increasingly important in people’s lives and I think we need to have a full conversation about what is the right regulation,” he told the hearing.

“You need to be careful (a new regulatory policy) doesn’t cement in the current companies that are winning.”

Zuckerberg also revealed that Facebook is cooperating with the US special prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the 2016 vote.

“Our work with the special counsel is confidential. I want to make sure in an open session I don’t reveal something that’s confidential,” he said.

Zuckerberg said he had personally not been contacted, and that he was not specifically aware of any subpoena of Facebook data.

“I believe there may be (a subpoena), but I know we’re working with them,” he said.

Swapping his customary T-shirt for a business suit and tie, the Facebook chief appeared somber as he fielded tough questions over Cambridge Analytica’s massive data breach.

“We’ve been working to understand exactly what happened with Cambridge Analytica and taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said in his prepared remarks.

But the show of contrition fell short for several lawmakers.

“We’ve seen the apology tours before,” Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told Zuckerberg.

“And so, my reservation about your testimony today is that I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are specific rules of the road.”

 Paid-for Facebook?

Dozens of protesters gathered outside Congress before the hearing wearing Zuckerberg masks and #DeleteFacebook T-shirts.

Inside the jammed hearing room, activists from the Code Pink group wore oversized glasses with the words “STOP SPYING” written on the lenses, and waved signs that read “Stop corporate lying.”

Testifying was a new step for Zuckerberg, who started Facebook as a Harvard dropout in 2004, and built it into the world’s largest social media company worth more than $450 billion.

During questioning, Zuckerberg rejected the suggestion that the social media giant, with over two billion users worldwide, has exclusive control over its market.

“The average American uses eight different apps to communicate with their friends and stay in touch with people, ranging from texting apps to e-mail,” he said.

Zuckerberg also said the company believed in an ad-supported business model, but appeared to leave open the possibility of a paid version.

“There will always be a version of Facebook that is free,” Zuckerberg told the hearing.

AFP

Facebook’s Chief, Zuckerberg Accepts Blame For Security Lapses

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (C) is escorted by U.S. Capitol Police as he walks in a hallway prior to a meeting with U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), committee chairman of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, April 9, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.           Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

Facebook Chief, Mark Zuckerberg, placed the blame for privacy and security lapses at the world’s largest social network squarely on himself as he girded for appearances this week on Capitol Hill before angry lawmakers.

In prepared remarks released by a congressional panel, Zuckerberg admitted he was too idealistic and failed to grasp how the platform — used by two billion people — could be abused and manipulated.

The 33-year-old is to testify before senators on Tuesday and House lawmakers on Wednesday amid a firestorm over the hijacking of data on millions of Facebook users by the British firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked with Donald Trump’s campaign.

On Monday, Zuckerberg ditched his trademark T-shirt for a suit and tie as he made the rounds on Capitol Hill with his assistant Andrea Besmehn for private meetings with lawmakers ahead of the hearings — a key test for the Facebook founder.

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry,” Zuckerberg said in his written testimony released by the House commerce committee.

“I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

In his written remarks, Zuckerberg called Facebook”an idealistic and optimistic company” and said: “We focused on all the good that connecting people can bring.”

But he acknowledged that “it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”

Zuckerberg said he has called for more investments in security that will “significantly impact our profitability going forward,” adding: “I want to be clear about what our priority is: protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profit.”

Investigating every app 

Zuckerberg recounted a list of steps announced by Facebook aimed at averting a repeat of the improper use of data by third parties like Cambridge Analytica and noted that other applications were also being investigated to determine if they did anything wrong.

“We’re in the process of investigating every app that had access to a large amount of information before we locked down our platform in 2014,” said Zuckerberg.

“If we detect suspicious activity, we’ll do a full forensic audit. And if we find that someone is improperly using data, we’ll ban them and tell everyone affected.”

After meeting with Zuckerberg on Monday, Senator Bill Nelson told reporters that Zuckerberg appears to be taking the matter seriously.

“I believe he understands that regulation could be right around the corner,” Nelson said.

Nelson said lawmakers would be looking at other social media sites in determining any new regulations.

“It’s not just Facebook,” the Florida senator said.

Facebook “happens to be the point of the spear, but all these other app sites that get your personal data, that’s another way of us losing our privacy,” Nelson said.

Facebook has taken a series of proactive steps to make up for massive lapses in protecting user data, as lawmakers signaled they intend to get tough on privacy.

Last week, the company announced new privacy tools to be in place in user news feeds on Monday and said it would notify the 87 million users affected by the data hijacking scandal, amid probes underway on both sides of the Atlantic.

Over the weekend, it said it had suspended another data analysis firm, US-based Cubeyou, after reports that it had used private data harvested from psychological testing apps for commercial purposes. It also suspended the Canadian firm AggregateIQ over apparent collaboration with Cambridge Analytica.

Backing ‘Honest Ads’ 

On Friday, Facebook sought to quell some concerns over political manipulation of its platform by announcing support for the “Honest Ads Act” that requires election ad buyers to be identified and to go further with verification of sponsors of ads on key public policy issues.

Zuckerberg said the change will mean “we will hire thousands of more people” to get the new system in place ahead of US midterm elections in November.

“We’re starting this in the US and expanding to the rest of the world in the coming months,” Zuckerberg said.

On Monday, Facebook agreed to supply proprietary data for a study on its role in elections and democracy.

“The focus will be entirely forward-looking. And our goals are to understand Facebook’s impact on upcoming elections — like Brazil, India, Mexico and the US midterms — and to inform our future product and policy decisions,” Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook has said it has seen little impact on its business from the privacy scandal despite a #deleteFacebook movement and concerns from advertisers.

But Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research said the entire digital advertising industry, of which Google and Facebook are the leaders, could be impacted by the scandal.

The changes announced by Facebook and Google restricting third-party access “indicate a higher likelihood that both companies will ‘raise their walls’ …  Both of these trends will likely harm ad tech companies focused on buying media or otherwise focused on the Facebook and Google ecosystems.”

AFP