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Digital World

US lawmakers frustrated with evasive Facebook CEO Zuckerberg

April 11, 2018

One congresswoman accused the billionaire of trying to "filibuster" the hearing by giving evasive, overlong answers. Zuckerberg admitted that he too had his data compromised by Cambridge Analytica.

Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the US Congress
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Harnik

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a second day of grilling on Wednesday as US lawmakers tried to figure out their next step in the wake of the social media giant's most recent privacy scandal.

The question and answer session was more heated and direct on the subject than Tuesday's hearing, which featured a grab bag of questions ranging from the Cambridge Analytica revelations to the basic facets of Facebook's business model.

When pressed, Zuckerberg defended his company's practices, saying: "Every time that someone chooses to share something on Facebook ... there is a control. Right there. Not buried in the settings somewhere but right there."

He added that users are able to view a list of what third-party apps that had downloaded that may have access to their data, and that the data-selling practices that led to Cambridge Analytica using people's information in attempts to skew elections had been shut down in 2015.

Zuckerberg appeared to have only recently grasped that Cambridge University was tangentially tied to the scandal. He made allusions to "something bad" happening at the institution, and implied that Facebook may sue.

Regulation 'inevitable'

The CEO promised that Facebook would be "proactive" about privacy in the future, and promised to cooperate with Congress on crafting regulations for the social media industry.

"I think it's inevitable that there will be some regulation," Zuckerberg said, making rather vague promises to have "his team" get in touch with legislators.

At certain points lawmakers grew tired of Zuckerberg's evasiveness and rehearsed platitudes, with Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn accusing the 33-year-billionaire of trying to "filibuster" by wasting time with non-answers.

In an effort to come across as more personable, Zuckerberg admitted that he was one of the 87 million users whose data had been compromised by Cambridge Analytica, though he declined to provide further details.

Lawmakers questioned Zuckerberg on his repeated insistence that Facebook users have complete control over their data, saying that this was not consistent with the firm's practice of giving advertisers access to a person's "likes" and other behaviors.

Zuckerberg also gave characteristically nondescript answers when asked if Facebook had violated European privacy laws, saying simply "we're working on it."

He also insisted that Facebook did not "listen" to verbal communication, a common theory floating around the internet, and fervently denied hosting any data inside Russia.

es/jm (AP, Reuters)

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