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Mark Zuckerberg is getting a grilling by Congress over Facebook privacy fears

The Facebook CEO told Congress how the social media giant is handling the security fallout from Cambridge Analytica.

Mark Zuckerberg Source: Sky News

Updated at 9.30pm

FACEBOOK CHIEF MARK Zuckerberg is facing a fiery bout of questioning on Capitol Hill this evening as he attempts to quell a storm over privacy and security lapses at the social network.

Zuckerberg, making his first formal appearance at a Congressional hearing, will seek to allay widespread fears ignited by the leaking of private data on tens of millions of users to Cambridge Analytica – a British firm working on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The scandal has sparked fresh calls for regulation of social media platforms, and Facebook in the past week has sought to stem criticism by endorsing at least one legislative proposal, which would require better labeling and disclosure on political advertising.

Before making his statement to Congress today, Zuckerberg was told by one senator that if Facebook and other social medias “don’t get your act together”, no one will be left with any privacy.

Zuckerberg was also told it wasn’t the first time there had been privacy concerns around Facebook accounts.

Zucky Source: Sky News

In his opening statement, Zuckerberg said that the Congress members “rightly had a number of questions for him to answer”.

He said that despite Facebook’s wide reach and popularity, it has brought a number of challenges including fake news, interference in foreign elections, hate speech, privacy issues.

“That was a big mistake, and it was my mistake, and I’m sorry,” he told Congress.

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

He explained to the 44 gathered US senators that they were wrong to believe Cambridge Analytica when they told Facebook that users’ data had been deleted. He said that they has a list of measures that they were taking to rectify this to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

He said that “if we find someone who misused data, we’ll ban them from Facebook and tell everyone affected”.

I believe it’s important that people who share things on Facebook know how their information is used, which is why when you share a photo on Facebook, it tells you who you’re sharing it with.

He said to the broader issue about people being informed of how all their information on Facebook is used, Zuckerberg replied to say that privacy clauses were long and complicated. He said that the longer the terms and conditions, the less likely people were to read them.

In response to questions from Senator Bill Nelson about how Facebook users’ information was employed to create tailored ads for people, Zuckerberg said that there was a tool to ensure people’s information wasn’t used in that way. He added:

If you want to have your experience, you can turn off third party information, what we’ve found that while people don’t like ads, people really don’t like ads that aren’t relevant.

He said that the majority of people don’t use that third party tool, and that the company’s business model was based on those types of tailored advertisements.

“You see my data as the company’s data, not my data, is that it?” Senator Nelson said. Zuckerberg answered no.

He said that AI systems are more efficient than humans at flagging and deleting terrorist-related posts, but said that technology had some way to go before it could recognise hate speech automatically.

Zuckerberg added: “I want to be clear about what our priority is: protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profit.”

What else did Zuckerberg say?

He said that Facebook was in an “arms race” with Russia on data security.

“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.

He added that Facebook would wik with the special counsel investigation into Russia’s possible involvement in the 2016 US presidential election.

He said that the social media giant will always offer a free version of the service.

“There will always be a version of Facebook that is free,” Zuckerberg told the hearing, amid questions about the company’s business model of not charging users but providing their data to advertisers to make money.

It is our mission to try to help connect everyone around the world to bring the world closer together. In order to do that we believe we need to offer a service that everyone can afford and we’re committed to doing that.

Zuckerberg denied that it was operating as a monopoly.

“It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me,” he said.

The average American uses eight different apps to communicate with their friends and stay in touch with people. Ranging from texting apps to email.

Zuckerberg also said he was open to some government regulation.

“My position is not that there should be no regulation,” he told the panel.

I think the real question as the internet becomes more important in people’s lives is what is the right regulation.

Background

The huge social network, with 2 billion users, has begun alerting some users about whether their data was leaked to Cambridge Analytica.

Notification is among several steps pledged by Facebook to fix pervasive problems on data security and manipulation of the giant platform.

Facebook meanwhile unveiled a “bounty” program offering rewards to people who report misuse of private information on the platform, offering at least $500 for verified cases affecting at least 10,000 users.

The programme “will reward people with first-hand knowledge and proof of cases where a Facebook platform app collects and transfers people’s data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence,” product security chief Collin Greene said in a statement.

Zuckerberg, who’s aged 33, is to appear before the House of Representatives tomorrow.

- with reporting from AFP

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