Senator warns Facebook better shape up or get broken up

In the run-up to Mark Zuckerberg’s first appearance before Congress, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden issued a warning to the company about what it can expect from lawmakers if it doesn’t radically alter course.

” Mr. Zuckerberg is going to have a couple of very unpleasant days before Congress next week and that’s the place to start ,” Wyden said at the TechFestNW meeting in his home nation of Oregon on Friday.

” There are going to be people who are going to say Facebook ought to be broken up. There have been a number of proposals and ideas for doing it and I guess unless[ Zuckerberg] observes a style to honor the promise he made several years ago, he’s gonna have a law on his hands .”

The Senator added that he would support such a law.

For Wyden, concealing the truth about data sharing in the fine print is a deceptive practice that’s gone on too long.

” I think we got to establish a principle once and for all that you own your data, period ,” Wyden said.

” What does that entail in the real world? It’s not enough for a company to bury some technical lingo in their[ words of service ]… It’s not enough to have some convoluted process for opting out .”

While that might have been wishful thinking two weeks ago, the Oregon lawmaker believes that Facebook’s most recent scandal has generating the perfect opportunity for privacy reform.

” If there is a grassroots uprising about the issue of who owns user data, we can get it passed ,” Wyden said, quoting other pieces of bipartisan legislation that once seemed like a long-shot.

Wyden, one of the loudest digital privacy champions in Congress, wants the public to use Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle to demand that social networks obtain” explicit permission” from users before sharing their personal data with anyone — including advertisers.

” It’s real basic. You have to give the okay for them to do anything with your data ,” Wyden said.

Zuckerberg is slated to appear before the Senate’s commerce and judiciary committees on Tuesday and the House energy and commerce committee the following day.

To date, Facebook has always successfully writhed out of watching its chief executive with his right hand raised. This time, as pressure mounted from legislators, investors, advertisers and the public alike, the company confessed. The situate of hearings is widely expected to be a milestone event in big tech’s reluctant shuffle toward get its wings clipped in Congress.

Unfortunately for Facebook, its corporate willful ignorance around protecting user data echoes other recent privacy tragedies — a context that won’t do it any favors.

” The reason that Facebook is in hot water is essentially the same reason that Equifax is in hot water ,” Wyden said.” These companies have not gotten their heads around the idea that the data they collect is more than merely their property .”

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Go find out now if Cambridge Analytica had access to your data

Facebook promised it would alert users yesterday who were impacted by the whole Cambridge Analytica mess. No doubt you’ve been waiting on that information since the whole thing traversed your radar. Well, you can either sit around and wait for a notification, or you can go find out yourself, by visiting this Facebook Help Center page.

The link will let you know if you were among the 87 million or so Facebook users who had their information compromised when you or one your friends logged into the “This is Your Digital Life” app. If so, there’s a good chance your profile, city, birthday and the pages you like is likewise shared.

If you were impacted, the page also notes that “a small number of people who logged in” may have given the service access to their “news need, timeline, posts and messages which may have included positions and messages from you.”

Of course, there’s a lot more information still to come from all off this — some of which will hopefully come to illumination when Mark Zuckerberg testifies to the Senate today.

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Mark Zuckerberg: We do not sell data to advertisers

While many of us in the tech world are familiar with Facebook’s business model, there is a common delusion among people that Facebook collects information about you and then sells that information to advertisers.

Zuckerberg wants everyone( especially the U.S. Senate) to know that’s not the case, and has laid forth the most simple instance to explain it.

During his testimony, the Facebook CEO clarified to Senator John Cornyn that Facebook does not sell data.

There is a very common misconception that we sell data to advertisers, and we do not sell data to advertisers. What we let is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach and then we do the placement. So, if an advertiser comes to us and tells,’ Alright, I’m a ski store and I want to sell skis to women ,’ then we might have some sense because people shared skiing related content or said they were interested in that. They shared whether they’re a woman. And then we can show the ads to the right people without that data ever changing hands and going to the advertiser. That’s a very fundamental part of how our model works and something that is often misunderstood.

While, again, this may seem straightforward to many of us, Zuckerberg detected himself having to explain more than once that Facebook does not sell data during the course of its Senate testimony.

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Highlights and audio from Zuckerbergs emotional Q&A on scandals

” This is going to be a never-ending battle ,” told Mark Zuckerberg. He only gave the most candid appear yet into his thoughts about Cambridge Analytica, data privacy and Facebook’s sweeping developer platform changes during a conference call with reporters today. Voicing alternately vulnerable about his past negligence and confident about Facebook’s strategy going forward, Zuckerberg took nearly an hour of tough questions.

You can read a transcript here and listen to a recording of the bellow below 😛 TAGEND

The CEO started the call by giving his condolences to those affected by the shooting at YouTube yesterday. He then delivered this mea culpa on privacy 😛 TAGEND

We’re an idealistic and optimistic company … but it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough. We didn’t focus enough on preventing abuse and thinking through how people could use these tools to do damage as well … We didn’t take a broad enough opinion of what our responsibility is and that was a huge mistake. That was my mistake.

It’s not enough to simply connect people. We have to make sure those connects are positive and that they’re bringing people together. It’s not enough just to give people a voice, we have to make sure that people are not utilizing that voice to hurt people or spread misinformation. And it’s not enough to give people tools to sign into apps, we have to make sure that all those developers protect people’s information too.

It’s not enough to have regulations requiring that they protect the information. It’s not enough to believe them when they’re telling us they’re protecting information. We actually have to ensure that everyone in our ecosystem protects people’s information.

This is Zuckerberg’s strongest statement yet about his and Facebook’s failure to anticipate worst-case scenarios , which has led to a string of scandals that are now decimating the company’s morale. Spelling out how policy means nothing without enforcement, and pairing that with a massive reduction in how much data app developers can request from users builds it seem like Facebook is ready to turn over a new leaf.

Here are the highlights from the rest of the call 😛 TAGEND

On Zuckerberg calling fake news’ influence “crazy”: ” I clearly made a mistake by just rejecting fake news as crazy — as has implications … it was too flippant. I never should have referred to it as crazy.

Facebook and the endless string of worst-case scenarios

On deleting Russian trolls : Not only did Facebook delete 135 Facebook and Instagram accounts belonging to Russian government-connected election interference troll farm the Internet Research Agency, as Facebook announced yesterday, Zuckerberg told Facebook removed” a Russian news organization that we decided was controlled and operated by the IRA .”

On the 87 million number : Regarding today’s disclosure that up to 87 million people had their data improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica,” it very well could be less but we wanted to put out the maximum that we felt it could be as soon as we had that analysis .” Zuckerberg also referred to The New York Times’ report , noting that ” We never put out the 50 million number, that was other parties .”

Facebook acknowledges Cambridge Analytica hijacked data on up to 87 M users

On users having their public info scraped : Facebook announced this morning that” we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile rubbed” via its search by phone number or email address feature and account recovery system. Scammers abused these to punch in one piece of info and then pair it to someone’s name and photo. Zuckerberg told search features are useful in languages where it’s hard to type or a lot of people have the same names. But” the methods of react limiting this weren’t able to prevent malicious performers who cycled through hundreds of thousands of IP address and did a relatively small number of queries for each one, so given that and what we know to day it merely stimulates sense to shut that down .”

On when Facebook learned about the scraping and why it didn’t inform the public sooner :” We looked into this and is understandable more over the last few days as part of the audit of our overall system ,” Zuckerberg told, declining to specify when Facebook first identified the questions.[ Update: Facebook subsequently specified that the sophisticated scraping had been picked up in the past few weeks during the audit, recently corroborated, and that the company disclosed the situation as soon as it had details ready .]

On enforcing GDPR worldwide : Zuckerberg refuted a Reuters story from yesterday saying that Facebook wouldn’t bring GDPR privacy protections to the U.S. and elsewhere. Instead he tells,” we’re going to make all the same controls and situates available everywhere , not just in Europe.”

Zuckerberg says Facebook will offer GDPR privacy controls everywhere

On if board has discussed him stepping down as chairman :” Not that I’m aware of ,” Zuckerberg said happily.

On if he still thinks he’s the best person to run Facebook :” Yes. Life is about draw lessons from the mistakes and figuring out what you need to do to move forward … I think what people should evaluate us on is learning from our mistakes … and if we’re building things people like and that make their lives better … there are billions of people who love the products we’re building .”

On the Boz memo and prioritizing business over security :” The things that induces our product challenging to manage and operate are not the trade-offs between people and the business. I actually guess those are quite easy because over the long-term, the business will be better if you serve people. I think it would be near-sighted to focus on short-term revenue over people, and I don’t think we’re that short-sighted. All the hard decisions we have to make are trade-offs between people. Different people who use Facebook have different wants. Some people want to share political speech that they think is valid, and other people feel like it’s hate speech … we don’t always get them right .”

The real threat to Facebook is the Kool-Aid turning sour

On whether Facebook can audit all app developers :” We’re not going to be able to go out and necessarily find every bad use of data ,” Zuckerberg said, but confidently said,” Iactually do think we’re going to be able to cover a large amount of that activity .”

On whether Facebook will sue Cambridge Analytica :” We have stood down temporarily to let the[ U.K. government] do their investigation and their audit. Once that’s done we’ll resume ours … and ultimately to make sure none of the data persists or is being used improperly. And at that point if it constructs sense we will take legal action if we need to do that to get people’s datum .”

Cambridge Analytica denies accessing data on 87 M Facebook users…claims 30 M

On how Facebook will measure its impact on fixing privacy : Zuckerberg wants to be able to measure” the prevalence of different categories of bad content like fake news, dislike speech, bully, terrorism … That’s going to end up being the style we should be held accountable and measured by the public … My hope is that over day the playbook and scorecard we put out will also be followed by other internet platforms so that style there can be a standard measure across the industry .”

On whether Facebook should try to earn less fund by utilizing less data for targeting :” People tell us if they’re going to see ads they want the ads to be good … that the ads are actually relevant to what they care about … On the one hand people want relevant experiences, and on the other hand I do think there’s some inconvenience with how data applies in systems like ads. But I think the feedback is overwhelmingly on the side of wanting a better experience. Perhaps it’s 95 -5 .”

Facebook rewrites Terms of Service, clarifying device data collected

On whether #DeleteFacebook has had an impact on utilization or ad revenue :” I don’t think there’s been any meaningful impact that we’ve find … but it’s not good .”

On the timeline for fixing data privacy :” This is going to be a never-ending combat. You never fully solve security. It’s an limbs race ,” Zuckerberg said early in the bellow. Then to shut Q& A, he said,” I think this is a multi-year endeavor. My hope is that by the end of this year we’ll have turned the corner on a lot of these issues and that people will see that things are getting a lot better .”

Overall, this was the moment of humility, candor and contrition Facebook desperately needed. Users, developers, regulators and the company’s own employees have felt in the dark this last month, but Zuckerberg did his best to lay out a clear route forward for Facebook. His willingness to endure these questions was admirable, even if he deserved the grilling.

The company’s problems won’t vanish, and its past sins can’t be apologized away. But Facebook and its leader have finally ripened past the incredulous dismissals and paralysis that characterized its response to past scandals. It’s ready to get to work.

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Zuckerbergs boring testimony is a big win for Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg ran his apology scripts, trotted out his listings of policy fixings and generally dulled the Senate into submission. And that constitutes success for Facebook.

Zuckerberg testified before the joint Senate judiciary and commerce committee today, capitalizing on the absence of knowledge of the political leaders and their surface-level questions. Half the time, Zuckerberg got to simply paraphrase blog posts and statements he’d already released. Much of the other half, he merely explained how basic Facebook functionality works.

The senators hadn’t done their homework, but he had. All that training with D.C. image consultants paid off.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify 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.( Photo: JIM WATSON/ AFP/ Getty Images)

Sidestepping any gotcha questions or meme-worthy sound bites, Zuckerberg’s repetitive answers gave the impression that there’s little left to uncover, whether or not that’s true. He made a persuading argument that Facebook is atoning for its sins, is cognizant of its responsibility and has a concrete scheme in place to improve data privacy.

With just five minutes per senator, and them each with a queue of questions to get through, few focused on the tougher queries, and even fewer had period for follow-ups to dig for real answers.

Did Facebook cover up the Cambridge Analytica scandal or decide against adding privacy protections earlier to protect its developer platform? Is it a breach of trust for Zuckerberg and other executives to have deleted their Facebook messages out of recipients’ inboxes? How has Facebook used a lack of data portability to hinder the rise of challengers? Why doesn’t Instagram let users export their data the route they can from Facebook?

The public didn’t get answers to any of those questions today. Just Mark’s steady voice regurgitating Facebook’s talking phases. Investors rewarded Facebook for its monotony with a 4.5 percentage share cost boost.

That’s not to say today’s hearing wasn’t effective. It’s just that potential impacts was feel before Zuckerberg waded through a hundred photographers to take his seat in the Senate office.

Facebook knew the working day was coming, and worked to build Zuckerberg a fortress of facts he could point to no matter what he got asked 😛 TAGEND

Was Facebook asleep at the wheel during the 2016 election? Yesterday it disclosed it had deleted the accounts of Russian GRU intelligence operatives in June 2016.

How will Facebook prevent this from happening again? Last week it announced plans to require identity and locating verification for any political advertiser or popular Facebook Page, and significantly limited its developer platform.

Is Facebook taking this seriously? Zuckerberg wrote in his prepared evidence for today that Facebook is doubling its security and content moderation squad from 10,000 to 20,000, and that” protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits .”

Is Facebook sorry?” We didn’t take a broad enough view of what its own responsibilities is and that was a huge mistake. That was my mistake ,” Zuckerberg has said , over and over.

Mark Zuckerberg: There will always be a version of Facebook that is free

Today during Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the Senate, the Facebook CEO reiterated that” there will always be a version of Facebook that is free .”

In the midst of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the user data supplied by up to 87 million people was sold by a third-party developer to Trump Campaign-linked firm Cambridge Analytica, there has been talk of Facebook potentially adding a subscription layer.

The scandal has brought to light the heart of a number of problems that many have been well aware of: if you’re not buying a product, you are the product.

Last week, when asked if there might be a style for users to opt out of being targeted for ads, Sandberg reacted saying they’d have to pay for it.

” We have different forms of opt-out, ” Sandberg responded.” We don’t have an opt-out at the highest level. That would be a paid product .”

Our own Josh Constine made an debate that ad-free subscriptions could save Facebook. And while there’s no term on an ad-free subscription, Zuckerberg did at least leave room for it in the future , noting that there will always be a version of Facebook that is free.

” How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service ?” Senator Orrin Hatch asked Zuckerberg.

” Senator, we run ads .”

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Instagram suddenly chokes off developers as Facebook chases privacy

Without warning, Instagram has transgressed many of the unofficial apps built on its platform. This weekend it surprised developers with a massive reduced by how much data they can pull from the Instagram API, shrinking the API limit from 5,000 to 200 bellows per user per hour. Apps that help people figure out if their adherents follow them back or interact with them, analyze their audiences or find relevant hashtags are now quickly running into their API limits, leading to broken functionality and pissed off users.

Two sources corroborated the new limits to TechCrunch, and developers are complaining about the situation on StackOverflow.

In a puzzling move, Instagram is refusing to comment on what’s happening while its developer rate limits documentation site 404s. All it would confirm is that Instagram has stopped accepting submissions of new apps, just as Facebook announced it would last week following backlash over Cambridge Analytica. Developers tell me they feel left in the dark and angry that the change wasn’t scheduled or even officially announced, preventing them from rebuilding their apps to necessitate fewer API calls.

Some developers suspect the change is an example of Instagram parent company Facebook’s scramble to improve data privacy in the wake of its non-stop string of data scandals. In the past week, Facebook announced it was shutting down Partner Categories ad targeting based on third-party data brokers. TechCrunch reported that Facebook also plans to require businesses to pledge that they have customers’ consent to attain their email addresses, which they use for ad targeting through Custom Audiences.

Third-party Instagram platform apps like Reports+ provide users analytics on their audiences, but are breaking due to the new API limits

Most public backlash has focused on #DeleteFacebook and ignored its subsidiaries like Instagram and WhatsApp. But Instagram may hope to prevent the virus of distrust from infecting its app too by cutting the API call limit to 1/25 th of its previous volume.

Causing this kind of platform whiplash could push developers away from the Instagram ecosystem , not that the company was too keen on some of these apps. For example, Reports+ charges $3.99 per month to give people analytics about their Instagram followers. Sensor Tower tells TechCrunch that Reports+ has grossed more than $18 million worldwide since October 2016 on the App Store and Google Play, and attained more than $1.2 million last month alone.

Instagram might have understandably insured these apps as parasitic, charging users for unofficial functionality or encouraging audience growth hacking that can lead to spam. In January, Instagram announced it would shut down the old API over the next two years, beginning with the removing the ability to pull a user’s adherent listing and follow/ unfollow people on their behalf on July 31 st. Instagram has been slowly trying to clean up its platform for years, having previously threatened legal actions against derivative apps with “Insta” or “Gram” in their names in 2013, and shut down its feed API in 2015 that allowed for unofficial Instagram feed-reading apps.

Instagram is now pushing developers on a much more restrictive platform that only lets approved partners post at users’ behest, and that can only pull mentions of and analytics about business accounts. These changes were slated to kill many of the apps broken by this weekend’s API limit reductions.

But at least developers were given fair warning about the July 31 st deadline. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Facebook set a intermission on reviewing any new applications last Monday as it tries to shore up data privacy safeguards in the wake of Cambridge Analytica. Instagram confirms to TechCrunch that the moratorium on app submissions extends to Instagram’s new Graph API, but wouldn’t explain anything about the API limits. So Instagram is breaking old apps while not permitting developers to submit new, compliant ones.

” Instagram’s absence of communication is frustrate to me because now I’m scrambling to update my apps and dealing with loadings of unhappy clients ,” a developer told me on the condition of anonymity.” If I had had a month to prep for this, I could’ve tweaked things so that limit was harder to reach. I’d be more frugal with my petitions. What happened is all of a sudden, I’m get dozens of emails, DMs on Instagram, with people saying the app’s not working .”

While Facebook is wise to scrutinize apps pulling in lots of user data, doing so without warning or even an announcement is how Facebook hurt its relationships with developers circa 2009 as it tried to rapidly reign in spammy virality. Facebook is suffering a crisis of conscience regarding whether its apps can be misused as weapons by those trying to interfere with elections or merely exploit our data for profit.

But as the owner of some of the world’s most popular developer platforms, it’s fretting to see it flail and flail this way. If Facebook and Instagram can’t even communicate a modification to its policies with proper procedure and transparency, it’s hard to imagine it’s composed enough to firmly and fairly enforce them.

For more on Facebook and Instagram’s troubles, check out our feature pieces :

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Zuckerberg fires back at Tim Cook, opens up about fake news

Zuckerberg has been on a bit of a publicity tour following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a generally tough year for the social media behemoth.

This morning, an interview with Zuck was published on Vox’s The Ezra Klein Show. In it, the Facebook CEO waded through some of the company’s most pressing issues, including how to deal with fake news and help support good journalism and how to deal with governing a community of 2 billion people. Zuck also clapped back at Tim Cook who has blamed Facebook’s model of producing revenue through advertising.

Fake News

On the problem of Fake News and transparency in the past 😛 TAGEND

It’s tough to be transparent when we don’t first have a full understanding of where the nation of some of the systems are. In 2016, we were behind having an understanding and operational excellence on preventing things like misinformation, Russian interference. And you can bet that that’s a huge focus for us going forward.

On how Facebook is trying to serve up content, including news content, that is meaningful to users 😛 TAGEND

The way that this works today, broadly, is we have panels of hundreds or thousands of people who come in and we show them all the content that their friends and pages who they follow have shared. And we ask them to rank it, and basically tell, “What were the most meaningful things that you wish were at the top of feed? ” And then we try to design algorithm that only map to what people are actually telling us is meaningful to them. Not what they click on , not what is going to make us the most revenue, but what people actually find meaningful and valuable. So when we’re induce shifts — like the broadly trusted shift — the reason why we’re doing that is because it actually maps to what people are telling us they want at a deep level.

Zuck was also asked about supporting news organizations, as some slice of Facebook’s revenue comes from users devouring news on the platform 😛 TAGEND

For the larger institutions, and maybe even some of the smaller ones as well, subscriptions are genuinely a key point on this. I suppose a lot of these business models are moving towards a higher percentage of subscriptions, where the people who are getting the highest value from you are contributing a disproportionate amount to the revenue. And there are certainly a lot of things that we can do on Facebook to help people, to assist these news organizations, drive subscriptions. And that’s certainly been a lot of the run that we’ve done and we’ll continue doing.

He also addressed that subscriptions might not work for local news, which the CEO believes are equally important 😛 TAGEND

In local news, I think some of the solutions might be a little bit different. But I think it’s easy to lose track of how important this is. There’s been a lot of conversation about civic participation changing, and I think people can lose sight of how closely tied that can be to local news. In a town with a strong local newspaper, people are much more informed, they’re much more likely to be civically active. On Facebook we’ve taken steps to show more local news to people. We’re also working with them specifically, creating funds to support them and working on both subscriptions and ads there should hopefully create a more thriving ecosystem.

In Reaction to Tim Cook

In an interview last week, the Apple CEO used to say tech firms “are beyond” self-regulation. When asked what he would do if he was in Zuckerberg’s position, Cook said ” I wouldn’t be in this situation .” The CEO has long is of the view that an advertising model, in which companies use data around users to sell to brands, is not what Apple wants to become.

” They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it ,” he told of Facebook and Google in 2015.” We think that’s incorrect. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be .”

Zuck was asked about Cook’s statements in the interview 😛 TAGEND

You know, I find that debate, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib. And not at all aligned with the truth. The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay. And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support constructing this service to reach people.

That doesn’t mean that we’re not primarily focused on serving people. I believe probably to the discontent of our sales squad here, I make all of our decisions based on what’s going to matter to our community and focus much less on the advertising side of the business.

Zuck even took the opportunity to clap back at Cook a bit, saying we shouldn’t believe that companies trying to charge us more actually care about us.

But if you want to build a service which is not just serving rich person, then you need to have something that people can afford. I believed Jeff Bezos had an excellent saying on this in one of his Kindle launches a number of years back. He told, “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.” And at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use.

I don’t suppose at all that that means that we don’t am worried about people. To the contrary, I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm Syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more persuade you that they actually care more about you. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.

The Government of Facebook

Vox’s founder and Editor-at-Large Ezra Klein brought up something Zuck said in an earlier interview, that Facebook was more like a government than a traditional company. Zuck has pointed out that disputes over what content is admissible on Facebook has grown to a scale that requires a certain level of governance.

But I think it’s actually one of the most interesting philosophical questions that we face. With their home communities of more than 2 billion people, all around the world, in every different country, where there are wildly different social and cultural norms, it’s only not clear to me that us sitting in an office here in California are best placed to always ascertain what the policies should be for people all around the world. And I’ve been working on and thinking through, how are you able set up a more democratic or community-oriented process that reflects the values of people around the world?

That’s one of the things that I actually think we need to get right. Because I’m merely not sure that the current state is a great one.

On how Facebook could prepare for its own overwhelming scale 😛 TAGEND

One is transparency. Right now, I don’t think we are transparent enough around the prevalence of different issues on the platform. We haven’t done a good job of publishing and being transparent about the prevalence of those kind of issues, and the run that we’re doing and the trends of how we’re driving those things down over time.

And on long-term objectives for governance 😛 TAGEND

But over the long-term, what I’d really like to get to is an independent appeal. So maybe folks at Facebook make the first decision based on the community standards that are outlined, and then people can get a second sentiment. You can imagine some sort of structure, almost like a Supreme court, that is made up of independent folks who don’t work for Facebook, who ultimately build the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech in their home communities that reflects the social norms and values of people all around the world.

You can read the full interview at

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Mark Zuckerberg vows to fight election meddling in marathon Senate grilling

Facebooks CEO seemed before Congress in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal to address concerns over users data

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, warned on Tuesday of an online propaganda” arms race” with Russia and vowed that fighting interference in elections around the world is now his top priority.

The 33 -year-old billionaire, during witnes that lasted nearly five hours, was speaking to Congress in what was widely seen as a moment of reckoning for America’s tech industry. It came in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which, Facebook has admitted, the personal information of up to 87 million users were harvested without their permission.

Zuckerberg’s comments dedicated an insight into the unnerving reach and influence of Facebook in numerous democratic societies.” The most important thing I care about right now is constructing sure no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world ,” he told under questioning by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico.

The senator stimulated reference to a billboard displayed earlier in the hearing that proved images- including Trump, the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and the Confederate flag- allegedly spread online by Russian spies during the 2016 general elections. He asked if Zuckerberg could guarantee such images would not appear on Facebook again.

” Senator , no, I can’t guarantee that because this is an ongoing arms race ,” the CEO said.” As long as there are people sitting in Russia whose undertaking it is to try and interfere with elections around the world, this is going to be an ongoing conflict .”

Earlier in the hearing, Zuckerberg acknowledged that” one of my greatest regrets in running the company” was being slow to uncover and act against disinformation campaigns by Russian trolls during the election.

The blockbuster joint hearing of the US Senate’s commerce and judiciary committees on Capitol Hill was a humbling moment for the young entrepreneur. Wearing a suit, white shirt and sky blue tie instead of his customary T-shirt, he sat contrite and silent as senator after senator carried deep concerns about the company’s meet of personal information.

Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, told him:” Let me simply cut to the chase. If you and other social media companies do not get your act in order , none of us are going to have any privacy any more. If Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix the privacy invasions, then we are going to have to. We, the Congress .”

Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the US Senate commerce, science and transportation committee and Senate judiciary committee. Photo: Jim Watson/ AFP/ Getty Images

Senator John Thune, a Republican and the chairman of the Senate commerce committee , noted that Facebook’s business model offers a free service in exchange for personal data.” For this model to persist, both sides of the bargain need to know what’s involved ,” he said.” I’m not persuaded Facebook’s users have the information they need to make decisions .”

Thune added:” Mr Zuckerberg, in many ways you and the company that you’ve created, the tale you’ve created, represent the American dreaming … At the same hour, you have an obligation, and it’s up to you, to ensure that dreaming doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook .”

Zuckerberg and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, have been on a media apology tour since the Cambridge Analytica story broke in the Observer, the Guardian’s sister Sunday newspaper in the UK, and he continued to apologize several times during Tuesday’s hearing.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook should not have trusted Cambridge Analytica’s assurance that it would stop using the personal information it harvested.” In retrospect, that was a mistake. We shouldn’t have taken their term for it. We considered that a closed instance .” He admitted that Facebook did not alert the Federal Trade Commission about the data collection.

Under questioning, he promised that Facebook was conducting a” full investigation” into every app that has access to users’ datum, numbering tens of thousands.” If we find they’re doing anything improper, we’ll ban them from Facebook ,” he said.

He also initially claimed that Cambridge Analytica had not been an advertiser in 2015 but, after a brief adjournment in which he consulted with personnel, he corrected himself: it had indeed been an advertiser subsequently that year and therefore could have been banned.

When Zuckerberg, who was constructing his first appearance before Congress, first took his seat, surrounded by a thick wood of clicking cameras, he seemed somewhat like a prisoner in the dock. But he seemed to grow in confidence as the afternoon wore on and tried to appear open and cooperative. He frequently used the respectful word “Senator” and complimented them for asking “important questions”, some of which he told ” his team” would report back on later.

Some senators tried to throw him off balance. John Kennedy of Louisiana told bluntly:” Your user agreement sucks .” Democrat Dick Durbin asked:” Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night ?” There was a long intermission before Zuckerberg responded: “No.” There was laugh in the room.

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Five key moments from Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony- video

But the Facebook co-founder was not eviscerated as some commentators had predicted. The stock exchange concurred: Facebook’s price, which had fallen seriously in recent weeks, objective the day up 4.5%. Zuckerberg plainly felt he was acquitting himself well. When Thune asked if he wanted a break after nearly two hours in the spotlight, the witness said:” We can do a few more .” He turned and smiled at his team and there was laugh in the public gallery.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal then almost devoted him cause to regret it. He challenged Facebook’s contention that Aleksandr Kogan, a Moldovan-born researcher from Cambridge University, deceived the company when he harvested user data. Blumenthal had what he claimed was a previously undisclosed 2014 words of service document that are specifically permitted Kogan to” sell, licence( by whatever means and on whatever terms) and archive your contribution and data “.

Blumenthal told:” We’ve seen the apology tours before. You have refused to acknowledge even an ethical violation to report this violation of the FTC consent decree. My reservation about your evidence today is that I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are specific rules of the road. Your business model is to maximise earning over privacy .”

Several topics predominated the hearing, including the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook officials have been interviewed by officials from the special advise Robert Mueller, who has been investigating Russia’s role in meddling in the 2016 election.” I know we are working with them ,” said Zuckerberg, acknowledging that “there may be” a subpoena but he was uncertain.

Regulation was also brought up repeatedly, including by the Republican senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, who asked Zuckerberg whether Facebook was a monopoly.” It surely doesn’t feel like that to me ,” he responded, inspiring mirth in the public gallery. Graham pressed him on the issue of regulation. Zuckerberg said:” My position is not that there should be no regulation .”

Asked if Facebook would therefore embrace regulation, the CEO told:” If it’s the right regulation, then yes .” Graham:” Would you work with us ?” Zuckerberg: “Absolutely.”

Senator John Cornyn pushed him on whether Facebook is a neutral platform. Zuckerberg replied,” I agree that we are responsible for the content”- a significant concession that could open the style for Facebook to be held to the same legal standards as a traditional media company.

Zuckerberg will face a second grilling on Wednesday from the US House energy and commerce committee.

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Zuckerberg will testify before Congress on April 11

Mark Zuckerberg will witness before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11. E& C Committee Chairman Greg Walden( R-OR) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr.( D-NJ) made this announcement this morning, clarifying that Zuckerberg will speak on the company’s use and protection of user data.

Here’s what the Congressmen had to say in a prepared statement 😛 TAGEND

This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy matters and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online. We appreciate Mr. Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify before the committee, and we look forward to him answering our questions on April 11 th.

This all goes amidst the greatest existential menace to Facebook we’ve yet to see.

In 2014, a third-party quiz app developed by Aleksandr Kogan collected the data of around 50 million raw profiles. Merely 270,000 some people who downloaded the app and participated in the survey, but at the time, Facebook permitted third parties to collect information around friends of friends.

Facebook no longer allows this data sharing, and had asked for certification in 2015 that this data had been deleted.

Kogan harvested and sold that data to Cambridge Analytica, a political firm that would use information on identity, social networks and likes to target demographics and influence voters. In 2016, the Trump Campaign hired Cambridge Analytica.

Following these revelations, a motion to #deletefacebook sprang up across the internet. But it wasn’t just users who reacted.

On March 21, Zuck issued his first reply to the scandal, adding:” If it is ever the lawsuit that I am the most informed person at Facebook in the best position to testify, I will happily do that .”

Two short days later, the House and Senate put Zuckerberg on notification, saying that he is the right person to testify. CNN reported on March 27 that Zuck had come to terms with the fact that he’d have to testify and the Facebook team began preparing for his day on the Hill.

That day now has a precise date: April 11.

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