'Um… no': Zuckerberg protects his own privacy in testimony

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told USA lawmakers that it is fighting an "arms race" against Russia-sponsored groups trying to use the social network to manipulate elections and public opinion.

In his opening remarks, he said: "Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company". Now you know that, and I know that. She immediately honed in on whether Facebook users are considered a priority in the company.

Yes, the focus of the hearing was user privacy.

"There have been reports that Facebook can track a user's Internet browsing activity, even after that user has logged off of the Facebook platform", Sen. Now, however, "I would say we are going through a broader philosophical shift in how we run the company".

Having now committed to his stance, Zuckerberg this time responded with a little more poise, saying, "Senator, no, I would probably not choose to do that publicly here". Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who seemed to catch Zuckerberg flatfooted when he asked about the terms of service that Facebook agreed to when it allowed Alexander Kogan to download Facebook users' data with an app he developed.

Shares in Facebook posted their biggest daily gain in almost two years, closing up 4.5 percent.

In response to numerous questions, rather than offering immediate answers Zuckerberg said he'd have his "team" get back to senators with details. Tuesday's hearing, and another planned for Wednesday, are all about the fallout from revelations that political ad targeting firm Cambridge Analytica acquired user data from an estimated 87 million people whose Facebook profiles were scraped and improperly shared from a psychology app developer.

As for the federal Russian Federation probe that has occupied much of Washington's attention for months, he said he had not been interviewed by special counsel Mueller's team, but "I know we're working with them".

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.

Lawmakers want better protections after data breaches that affected tens of millions of users.

"In principle, I think that that makes sense, and the details matter, and I look forward to having our team work with you on fleshing that out", Zuckerberg said.

What the first day of the Zuckerberg hearings made clear is that many American lawmakers are illiterate when it comes to 21st century technology.

The US Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook violated an agreement it signed with the agency in 2011 by its actions in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

"I think the real question, as the internet becomes more important in people's lives, is what is the right regulation, not whether there should be or not". Zuckerberg acknowledged he's open to regulation to reign in privacy.

"I made mistakes", the note said, under a bullet point labeled "Resign?"

  • Carolyn Briggs