Mark Zuckerberg testifies in US Congress on Cambridge Analytica scandal – highlights

22:40 (IST)

The Mark Zuckerberg inquisition begins today as new lawsuits rain down

Facebook faces two new federal lawsuits for allegedly violating the trust of the millions of users whose personal data was shared with the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica.

A California suit filed Monday seeks a court order to halt what it calls Facebook’s unfair and deceptive business practices.

A Delaware case filed Tuesday contends Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. It also names Cambridge Analytica and its business partners as defendants, alleging they committed fraud by using the social network to obtain personal data on at least 80 million Facebook users without their knowledge and consent.

Both are seeking class-action status. Lawyers in the Delaware case say they are aware of about a dozen similar suits. Facebook had no comment, but referred to previous statements that called Cambridge Analytica’s actions a breach of trust.

22:42 (IST)

Zuckerberg will walk past this hall of mirrors

 

22:46 (IST)

How to stream the Mark Zuckerberg testimony

 

22:59 (IST)

Yes, Mark Zuckerberg will wear a suit for Congress testimony

ICYMI, Yes, Mark Zuckerberg will wear a suit. Though best known for his “uniform” of jeans, sneakers and a fitted gray T-shirt — adding a hoodie if the weather demands — the Facebook CEO will don a suit and tie when he testifies before Congress this week. He already did Monday, when he met with lawmakers ahead of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s grillings.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, center, leaves a meeting with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 9, 2018. Zuckerberg will testify Tuesday before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election.

23:14 (IST)

The math behind Facebook’s apology tour

Zuckerberg controls 59.7 percent of the voting stock in Facebook. He is both chairman of the board and CEO. He can’t be fired, unless he fires himself. “At the end of the day, this is my responsibility,” he told reporters last week. He also admitted to making a “huge mistake” in not taking a broad enough view of Facebook’s responsibility in the world.

Zuckerberg, however, has been apologizing for not doing better on privacy for 11 years. In the current crisis, neither he nor chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg have clarified exactly how Facebook developed such a huge blind spot, much less how it can prevent history from repeating itself.

23:19 (IST)

Mark Zuckerberg is going to get uncomfortable in this hot seat 

Testimony begins 2:15 pm EST, that’s around midnight IST, April 10

23:24 (IST)

Who owns user data on Facebook? 

Facebook collects data on its own (your likes, which ads you click on, etc.); keeps data you share yourself (photos, videos, messages); and correlates data from outside sources to data on its platform (email lists from marketers, and until recently, information from credit agencies).

Who owns what is a difficult question to answer, and Facebook clearly hasn’t been good at explaining it. While you can download everything the company knows about you, it doesn’t really allow you to take “your” data to a rival.

Sandberg told Today’s Savannah Guthrie that given Facebook’s ad-driven business model, you can’t currently avoid data mining of your public profile information. Allowing that, Sandberg said, would effectively require Facebook to turn into a “paid product” that charges users.

23:26 (IST)

Comey testified for 3 hours, Hillary Clinton for 11 hours; how long will Facebook testimony last?

23:29 (IST)

Mark Zuckerberg posts status update with cherry blossom backdrop

23:35 (IST)

Did Facebook threaten legal action against Guardian newspaper for the Cambridge Analytica scandal news break?

John Mulholland, editor of the Guardian US, tweeted in March that Facebook had threatened to sue to stop publication of its story that broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal in mid-March. Neither the Guardian nor Facebook have commented further. This is likely to come up today.

23:40 (IST)

So, what’s the official name for Zuckerberg’s grilling in US Congress?

23:42 (IST)

Want to stream Facebook testimony live? 

Here’s the CSPAN link. Beginning in a few minutes.

23:46 (IST)

How will Zuckerberg handle the pressure? 

The much-awaited and eagerly watched testimony is about to go Live – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has already taken responsibility and apologized to lawmakers in a prepared written statement yesterday. So we are not expecting any surprises from that angle. What remains to be seen is whether he will offer any concrete changes and implementations to Facebook to stop or at least stem the breach of users’ data from being harvested by third parties. Also of interest will be his body language. The 7th richest man on the planet is also very young – how will he take the heat from lawmakers and who are expected to ask some tough questions.

23:51 (IST)

We’re a few minutes away from the starting line. A total of 44 members of the US Congress will question Zuckerberg.

Meanwhile, Facebook has begun alerting some users that their data was swept up in the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

23:55 (IST)

Zuckerberg set to face Senate grilling in a lawyers town

The floor is already teeming! There are even protesters lining the walls and on the floor! Media, attendants to lawmakers and I’m sure lawyers for every word that gets said or not said. User privacy, fake news, data breach – nothing will not be asked of him. Is Cambridge Analytica the only harvester of Facebook data or are there many more out there – Zuckerberg is going to be grilled – well-done for sure!

23:58 (IST)

The heat is on, Senators are coming here will all guns blazing

00:00 (IST)

What will fellow Californian Kamala Harris ask Zuckerberg?

00:06 (IST)

The Facebook testimony has begun

Zuckerberg is testifying in the Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday. He agreed to testify after revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, gathered personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections.

Senators are expected to also ask him about Russian interference on his company’s platform in the 2016 election.

In testimony released Monday, Zuckerberg apologizes for the privacy scandal and for not recognizing Russian interference sooner.

00:09 (IST)

He looks nervous

Zuckerberg is looking nervous! Ready for his opening statement. But before that Chairman Grassley is going over the Committee rules and regulations. Nearly half of US senate is here in one room! Tough for anyone in the best of times.

00:12 (IST)

The skewering that will begin soon

00:14 (IST)

Zuckerberg was not sworn in…

Hmmm. Normally everyone is. Kind of a mystery. Senator Thune, republican from South Dakota,  is addressing him directly. Tough words from him. He is basically telling him as it is. Diana Feinstein, ranking member of Senate Judiciary Committee among others, is next.

00:18 (IST)

Meanwhile, a stone’s throw from the Facebook testimony, breaking news from Trump’s residence: The White House says Trump has power to fire special counsel Robert Mueller as legal pressure mounts on the President.

00:23 (IST)

The view from Zuckerberg’s hot seat

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is surrounded by members of the media as he arrives to testify before a Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees joint hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2018.

00:28 (IST)

Generation Gap!

Lawmakers stumbling over social media words – Cambridge Analytica is especially tongue-twisting for a few – just a side glimpse into how far we as society has come but at the same time there are laws and rules and regulations run by these feisty older gentlemen and women. Zuckerberg looks like a kid in trouble who’s called into the Principal’s room! Let’s see if he’s going to be a respectful and contrite kid or brings in a sturdy defense for himself and his giant company.

00:38 (IST)

Trolls, protestors watch Zuckerberg testimony 

A person wearing a blue and green pointy wig, aiming to look like a Russian troll, watched from the back of the room as the Senate kicked off its hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The person wore a red and blue Russian flag around his neck.

Other protesters held up signs that said “Stop Corporate Spying.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley noted that the crowd was not big by the standards of the gargantuan social network platform. But the hearing room was filled, with a line of hundreds of people waited down the hall and into the next office building. Zuckerberg is testifying in the Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday.

00:41 (IST)

Red eyed and tense, Zuckerberg says “I’m sorry”

Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg offered an apology to US lawmakers Tuesday as he made a long-awaited appearance in a congressional hearing on the hijacking of personal data on millions of users.

Reading from his written testimony, Zuckerberg repeated a statement he had previously made, saying the misuse of data “was my mistake, and I’m sorry.”

“It will take some time to work through all of the changes we need to make, but I’m committed to getting it right,” Zuckerberg told lawmakers.

00:52 (IST)

Lawmakers say they are “shocked”, Zuckerberg sticks to his script

Zuckerberg’s opening statement does not reveal new information about how data was shared or what Facebook will do. In addition to saying he is sorry, Zuckerberg outlined the steps the company has taken to restrict outsiders’ access to people’s personal information. He also said the company is investigating every app that had access to a large amount of information before the company moved to prevent such access in 2014 — actions that came too late in the Cambridge Analytica case.

00:56 (IST)

Lawmakers juice the Zuckerberg moment

Watch for the performance of the lawmakers themselves. A few of them are up for reelections come November 2018. Bill Nelson, democratic senator from Florida who is facing a tough race against Governor Rick Scott, is expected to be tough on the privacy issue.

01:03 (IST)

Facebook helped Trump sales team in 2016: Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is facing 44 senators as part of a rare joint committee hearing to address how his company handles user privacy and other issues. He has just said moments ago that Facebook helped Trump sales team in 2016.

Zuckerberg said in his opening statement Tuesday that Facebook didn’t do enough to prevent its tools from being used for harm. This, he says, goes for fake news, foreign elections interference, hate speech and data privacy.

Zuckerberg is apologizing, as he has in the past, and says he is “responsible” for what happens on Facebook. Zuckerberg is also reiterating that the company is in the process of investigating apps that had access to user data. He says the company is investigating “many apps,” in the tens of thousands.

01:11 (IST)

Mistake to trust Cambridge Analytica claims: Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says “it was clearly a mistake” to believe the data-mining company Cambridge Analytica deleted Facebook data it had gathered in an attempt to sway elections.

A former employee of Cambridge Analytica, a London-based data-mining firm with ties to U.S. President Donald Trump, said the company collected the Facebook information of tens of millions of users without their permission. The firm got Facebook information through an app in order to build psychological profiles on a large portion of the U.S. electorate.

Zuckerberg said the company considered the data collection “a closed case” because they thought the data had been deleted. He said they would handle it differently today.

01:18 (IST)

Who’s your toughest competitor? What’s the alternative to Facebook? 

The tough questions are coming from Senator Lindsay Graham. The gut punch came just now: “Is there a competitor who can do the same job you do?”

Zuckerberg almost said yes but stopped just short.

And now – the R word. Are you ready for regulation?

This is the real thing. It’s just beginning, 4 pm EST.

And yes, Mueller’s team has been in touch with Facebook. Zuckerberg realised he may have goofed up big time saying this in a public testimony.

01:22 (IST)

Yes, Robert Mueller’s team has interviewed Facebook employees

01:31 (IST)

Robert Mueller has interviewed Facebook employees

Answering searching questions from US lawmakers on the red line on privacy, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says company is working with special counsel Robert Mueller in Russia probe. After saying it, he realised he may have goofed but it was too late. Mueller has not yet spoken with Zuckerberg but has been interviewing Facebook employees.

02:03 (IST)

“Do you have a monopoly?”

Asked by Senator Lindsey Graham if Facebook has a monopoly, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it “certainly doesn’t feel that way to me.”

Zuckerberg is facing 44 senators in a rare joint committee hearing to talk about how his company protects user data and deals with elections meddling, among other issues. He says Facebook has many competitors and demurred at naming just one.

He says Facebook provides a “number of different services” and that the average person uses eight different apps to communicate with friends.

Some critics who say Facebook is too big say it should be forced to spin off apps like WhatsApp and Instagram.

Generally, though, Facebook is considered a “duopoly” with Google when it comes to the digital advertising market. It does have several competitors on other fronts, including by Twitter, Snapchat and various messaging apps around the world

02:05 (IST)

“There will always be a free version of Facebook”

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday that the social media giant will always offer free services to users, as he addressed a US Senate hearing on mass abuses of personal data.

“There will always be a version of Facebook that is free,” Zuckerberg told the hearing, amid questions about the company’s business model of not charging users but providing their data to advertisers to make money.

02:08 (IST)

Ted Cruz questioning Mark Zuckerberg

Ted Cruz is trying very hard to keep it straight but it’s hard to forget the Republican 2016 campaign. – “Do you consider yourself a neutral forum?”  He is asking about why Facebook is biased to Republicans and Conservative pages. Zuckerberg is getting fed up – he brings up the foreign intervention angle back into the conversation to counter Cruz’s political overtone.

02:10 (IST)

Five-minute break after many glasses of water downed

Remember the 8 hours of questing that Hillary Clinton went through for the Benghazi Investigation? Zuckerberg took the break offered by Sen. Thun. He might have needed it after the amount of water he’s been gulping since the hearings began! Each and every Senator has its own agenda as we just saw in Ted Cruz’s line of questioning. A lot of these lawmakers are not able to comprehend what it will involve to rein in this monolith issue of privacy. They keep interrupting him and he keeps fencing with “I’ll get back to you”.

02:12 (IST)

Facebook stocks end higher on Wall Street

While the Zuckerberg testimony is on, Wall Street stocks finished solidly higher on Tuesday amid easing of US-China trade tensions and Facebook surged as the company’s chief apologized to Congress over a data breach scandal.

02:36 (IST)

“I’ll have my people get in touch with you”

Crisis-management experts say the Facebook CEO looks a bit shaky at points but is overall doing a fairly good job on appearing cooperative and forthright.

Mike Chapple, a University of Notre Dame professor, said Zuckerberg was doing a good job overall.

Chapple said: “As far as I can tell the answers he’s providing are accurate, he’s being upfront about mistakes they’ve made in past and committed to correcting issues in the future.”

But Dartmouth Business Professor Paul Argenti said he sounded “staged and careful.”

Argenti said: “He’s probably said 15 times, ‘I’ll have my people get in touch with you.’ There’s a formality about the way he’s presenting himself.”

02:40 (IST)

Finally, clarity from Zuckerberg on who’s responsible for Facebook content 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company is “responsible for the content” on its platform.

That’s a departure from how internet companies have traditionally viewed themselves — as neutral platforms generally not responsible for what people post and share on their services. But Zuckerberg, who is testifying before a rare joint congressional committee on Tuesday, says Facebook needs to take a “broader view” of its responsibility in the world.

He also says that advances in artificial intelligence mean companies like Facebook will have to think about proactively removing objectionable content, for example, not just reactively after someone flags it. This, he says, raises “moral and legal” obligation questions. Facebook already removes some content, such as suspected terrorist propaganda before anyone sees it. But as its systems improve, it’ll likely be able to remove other content too.

02:46 (IST)

How do you define hate speech? 

This is perhaps the best part of the questioning – what constitutes Hate Speech! Zuckerberg is stumbling and is honest to say this is one of the most difficult questions that Facebook faces when it comes to monitoring free speech. Violence, bullying are easy to identify but what about vigorous discussions on, say abortion? Would you censor that?

02:48 (IST)

Facebook shares get a bump

Investors are rallying around Facebook as CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears before Congress to answer questions about the social media giant’s recent privacy scandal.

Facebook shares rose 4.5 percent to $165.04, their biggest percentage gain in almost two years.

About half the gain came early in the day as the broader market surged on signs of an easing in trade tensions between the U.S. and China. Facebook shares gained further as Zuckerberg took questions from senators seeking an explanation for how Facebook failed to prevent a data-mining company from gathering personal information on 87 million users and whether the company does enough to protect users’ data.

Facebook shares are still down about 11 percent since the scandal broke last month due to concerns about stricter regulation of social media companies.

02:53 (IST)

Okay, Facebook does not sell your data but profits from it

Mark Zuckerberg insisted once again Tuesday that Facebook doesn’t sell your data, calling it a common misconception people have about Facebook.

“We do not sell data to advertisers,” the Facebook CEO testified during a Senate hearing. “What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach. And then we do the placement.”

Associated Press is reporting that it’s true that Facebook doesn’t sell your data directly to third parties, but it clearly profits from it. Thanks to user data, Facebook made $40 billion in advertising revenue last year, second only to Google when it comes to the share of the global digital advertising market.

02:57 (IST)

Mark Zuckerberg testimony memes are brutal

03:03 (IST)

The Zuckerberg testimony, tweet sized

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg is all set for a fiery face-off on Capitol Hill at 2:15 pm Tuesday as he attempts to quell a firestorm over privacy and security lapses at the social network that have angered lawmakers and the site’s two billion users.

Zuckerberg, making his first formal appearance at a Congressional hearing, will seek to allay widespread fears ignited by the leaking of private data on tens of millions of users to a British firm working on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The scandal has sparked fresh talk about regulation of social media platforms, and Facebook in the past week has sought to stem criticism by endorsing at least one legislative proposal, which would require better labeling and disclosure on political advertising.

Senator Bill Nelson, one of the lawmakers who met privately Monday with Zuckerberg, said he believes the 33-year-old CEO is taking the matter seriously.

“I believe he understands that regulation could be right around the corner,” the Florida Democrat said.

Other lawmakers were less clear about the need for new regulations.

Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said, “I’m not interested in regulating Facebook. I’m interested in Facebook regulating itself and solving the problems. I come in peace.”

The huge social network has begun alerting some users about whether their data was leaked to the British firm Cambridge Analytica.

Notification is among several steps pledged by Facebook to fix pervasive problems on data security and manipulation of the platform used by some two billion people worldwide.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley said Tuesday’s hearing is the first step in an “open dialogue about how we address growing consumer privacy concerns.”

“The tech industry has a duty to respond to widespread and growing privacy concerns and restore the public trust. The status quo no longer works,” Grassley added.

Suit and tie

On Monday, Zuckerberg ditched his trademark T-shirt for a somber dark suit and tie as he made the rounds on Capitol Hill and sounded contrite about Facebook’s conduct.

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry,” Zuckerberg said in his written testimony released by the House commerce committee.

“I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

In his written remarks, Zuckerberg called Facebook “an idealistic and optimistic company” and said: “We focused on all the good that connecting people can bring.”

But he acknowledged that “it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”

Zuckerberg said he has called for more investments in security that will “significantly impact our profitability going forward,” adding: “I want to be clear about what our priority is: protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profit.”

‘Investigating every app’

Zuckerberg recounted a list of steps announced by Facebook aimed at averting a repeat of the improper use of data by third parties like Cambridge Analytica, and noted that other applications were also being investigated to determine if they did anything wrong.

“We’re in the process of investigating every app that had access to a large amount of information before we locked down our platform in 2014,” said Zuckerberg.

“If we detect suspicious activity, we’ll do a full forensic audit. And if we find that someone is improperly using data, we’ll ban them and tell everyone affected.”

Zuckerberg met behind closed doors with Senators Bill Nelson of Florida and Dianne Feinstein of California, among others.

Backing ‘Honest Ads’

On Friday, Facebook sought to quell some concerns over political manipulation of its platform by announcing support for the “Honest Ads Act” that requires election ad buyers to be identified, and to go further with verification of sponsors of ads on key public policy issues.

Zuckerberg said the change will mean “we will hire thousands of more people” to get the new system in place ahead of US midterm elections in November.

“We’re starting this in the US and expanding to the rest of the world in the coming months,” Zuckerberg said.

On Monday, Facebook agreed to supply proprietary data for a study on its role in elections and democracy.

“The goal is both to get the ideas of leading academics on how to address these issues as well as to hold us accountable for making sure we protect the integrity of these elections on Facebook,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

“Looking back, it’s clear we were too slow identifying election interference in 2016, and we need to do better in future elections.”