Date
22 April 2018
Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees hearing in Washington on Tuesday regarding Facebook's use and protection of user data. Photo: Reuters
Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees hearing in Washington on Tuesday regarding Facebook's use and protection of user data. Photo: Reuters

Zuckerberg testifies to Senate panel; fends off regulation talk

Facebook’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before a US Congressional panel on Tuesday to field questions regarding the company’s data practices and other issues.

At the hearing, Zuckerberg repeated apologies made on Monday for a range of problems that have beset Facebook, from data privacy to foreign attempts to influence US elections.

However, the Facebook chief managed to deter any specific talk about new laws to regulate the Internet firm, and made no new promises, Reuters reports.

“I’ll have my team follow up with you so that way we can have this discussion across the different categories where I think this discussion needs to happen,” Zuckerberg told a joint hearing by the US Senate’s Commerce and Judiciary committees, when asked what regulations he thought were necessary.

He denied that Facebook, which has more than 2 billion monthly users across the world, was a monopoly. “It certainly doesn’t feel that way to me,” Zuckerberg said.

Wearing a dark suit and tie instead of his typical T-shirt and jeans, Zuckerberg appeared largely unruffled as senators questioned him.

Investors welcomed his performance. 

Facebook shares closed up 4.5 percent at US$165.04, posting their biggest daily gain in nearly two years, as the CEO fended off questions from senators as to how the world’s largest social network might be regulated more closely, Reuters noted.

The shares fell steeply last month after it came to light that millions of users’ personal information was harvested from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that has counted US President Donald Trump’s election campaign among its clients. 

Facebook disclosed in September that Russians under fake names used the social network to try to influence US voters in the months before and after the 2016 election, writing about inflammatory subjects, setting up events and buying ads.

“We believe it is entirely possible that there will be a connection there,” Zuckerberg said when asked if there was overlap between Cambridge Analytica’s harvested user data and the political propaganda pushed by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency during the 2016 presidential election.

Last week, Zuckerberg threw his support behind proposed legislation requiring social media sites to disclose the identities of buyers of online political campaign ads.

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RC

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