Zuckerberg survives testimony
But it's still unclear what Washington is going to do to fix Facebook data breach
12 April, 2018Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before House and Senate committees last week after revelations that political research firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly gained access to private information of as many as 87m Facebook users, including 71m Americans, during the 2016 US election season. Zuckerberg survived a five-hour Senate grilling on 10 April, returning to the House for four more hours the next day. He acknowledged that regulation of social media companies is “inevitable” and disclosed that his own personal information has been compromised by malicious outsiders. But after two days of congressional testimony, what seemed clear was how little US Congress seems to know about Facebook, much less what to do about it, commented the US press.In his testimony to a joint session of the Senate commerce and judiciary committees, the Facebook CEO apologised for mistakes that led to the research firm Cambridge Analytica scandal. Speaking before a packed room with 44 senators in attendance, Zuckerberg said his company is rethinking its responsibilities to users and society. The questions to him were about Facebook's fundamental business model, the way it uses data and what kind of regulation may be appropriate.“I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here,” he said.House lawmakers were a bit tougher on Zuckerberg than their colleagues in the Senate. Some of them curtly cut him off in questioning, trying to make the most of their four minutes each. Zuckerberg mostly held his composure, repeating many of the same well-rehearsed answers: He is sorry for the company's mistakes. He is working on artificial intelligence technology to weed out hate speech and at the same time ensure that they don't block people for the wrong reasons. People own their own data, as far as he sees it. Zuckerberg promised Congress that Facebook will roll out the strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy regulations that will be required in the EU beginning next month to all of Facebook's users around the world. Zuckerberg even said he thought GDPR was a good idea. He might as well - the regulations are coming whether he supports them or not. “I think the GDPR, in general, is going to be a very positive step for the internet,” he said at US House of Representatives. For Zuckerberg, who often found himself explaining what his company does in rudimentary terms to lawmakers, the hearings could be considered a win: Facebook shares rose more than 1% after climbing 4.5% on 9 April. And his company regained more than $25bn in market value that it had lost since it was revealed in March that Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with Donald Trump's presidential campaign, gathered personal information to try to influence elections.Still, Facebook's stock remains 10% below where it stood before the scandal, a decline that has wiped out about $50bn in shareholder wealth.