Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook will testify before the US Congress today. The 33-year old CEO of Facebook will answer questions from lawmakers in two separate hearing scheduled for April 10 and April 11. He is expected to detail how the company handles user data and what amount of data is being collected and stored by the platform.
Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before the Congress after it was revealed that Facebook was used to scrape data of over 50 million users by a UK based big data firm named Cambridge Anaytica. The social media giant came clean on the whole issue and confirmed that around 87 million users mainly based in the US were affected by the data breach.
This is the first time Zuckerberg is appearing before a Senate judiciary committee and it comes in a critical juncture for the platform. Last year, it was revealed that Facebook was used by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) to understand voter behavior and spread misinformation on the platform. Facebook confirmed that IRA purchased ads in Russian ruble and its political ads were seen by millions of users in the United States.
Zuckerberg will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation committees on Tuesday, April 10. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 2.15PM ET (or 11.45PM IST) and will be live-streamed on https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/facebook-social-media-privacy-and-the-use-and-abuse-of-data.
Following the appearance today, Zuckerberg will also appear before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Wednesday, April 11. This particular testimony is scheduled to begin at 10AM ET (or 7.30PM IST) and will be available for livestream at https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings/facebook-transparency-use-consumer-data/.
This is the first time Mark Zuckerberg will be addressing Senators under oath and the timing could not have been any worse. Most senators at both sides of the aisle are worried about Facebook’s growing power and are extremely cautioned by its ability to threaten a democracy. Now, there is also a question of its data usage policy and senators believe it does little to protect the interest of its users.
Facebook has grown too big at a relatively short time and there is no denial that over 2 billion users are at risk of their public as well as private data being illegally accessed by big data firms like Cambridge Analytica. In his testimony released early by Congress, Zuckerberg will address Chairman Walden and members of the committee and apologize right away by saying sorry for not taking enough measures and responsibility for user data.
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“It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here,” Zuckerberg will tell the committee.
Zuckerberg has apologized for privacy issues multiple times in the past but this is the first time, the platform is under threat of being regularized by the Congress. Zuckerberg has himself said that he thinks the time is right for the platform to be regulated by the Congress. The implications of Zuckerberg’s testimony today and tomorrow has wide impact on Facebook and major tech companies dealing with user data including Google and Twitter.