Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today took responsibility for the massive filtering of data from Cambridge Analytica in an unprecedented hearing before the Senate in which he faced tough questioning by legislators from both parties.
In his first public appearance before Congress, the senators demanded more details about how Facebook collects and uses user data, as well as the measures that the technological giant is taking so that another leak is not repeated and dissemination is controlled. of “false news” by foreign agents.
Zuckerberg, who assumed they did not “adequately” calibrate his “responsibility,” stressed before a rare joint session of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees that “it was a big mistake” to allow Cambridge Analytica access to that amount of data. to favor the electoral campaign of the current president, Donald Trump.
“I started Facebook, I direct it, and I am responsible for what happens here,” he reiterated.
“My highest priority has always been to connect people, our social mission, connect people, create community and unite the world.” Advertisers and developers will never be a priority over that as long as I run Facebook, “added the founder of the social network.
However, Zuckerberg acknowledged to the senators that “it is not enough” for his company to “connect people”, but he has to “make sure those connections are positive” and protect his privacy.
“We are faced with a number of important issues around privacy, security and democracy, and rightly so, you will have some difficult questions to ask,” he said.
Asked by the senators about the possible interference of foreign agents in his company, Zuckerberg reiterated that avoiding this situation is “one of his highest priorities”, and confessed that one of his “greatest regrets” is the “slow response” that Facebook had to identify the Russian operators that interfered in the 2016 elections.
The billionaire recalled that the social network identified “tens of thousands of false Russian accounts” during the presidential elections, although only 470 were canceled because they verified that they spread false information.
On this matter, Zuckerberg assured that his company works with the team of special prosecutor of the Russian plot, Robert Mueller, to assist him in his investigations into the possible interference of Moscow in the elections of 2016.
Zuckerberg reported being questioned by the senators that several members of his team have been interviewed for the investigations, but avoided giving details so as not to violate confidentiality.
“In fact I do not know if there has been a legal requirement for it, I think it may have been, but what I do know is that we are working with them,” Zuckerberg said, while clarifying that he has not been personally interviewed for this. investigation.
The CEO of the social network, who changed his casual appearance by suit and tie, tried to calm the concerns of the legislators and promised to make significant reforms in his company to increase privacy and avoid the manipulation of foreign agents.
“It’s clear now that we did not do enough to prevent these tools from being used to cause harm, and that applies to false news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech, as well as to developers and privacy. the data, “he said.
The director of the company also listed a series of measures that are being carried out to tackle episodes like this, such as “investigate tens of thousands of applications” that interconnect with its platform.
“And if we find any suspicious activity, we will perform a full audit of those applications to understand how they are using their data and if they are doing something inappropriate,” he said.
Likewise, Zuckerberg explained that by the end of this year his company will have a total of 20,000 people working on security and content review to complement its strategy and prevent episodes similar to what happened.
The threat of increased regulation over the Internet and social networks, not just Facebook, was on the table throughout the hearing, which tomorrow will have a second day in the House of Representatives.
“If Facebook and other online companies can not or do not know how to fix these privacy invasions, then we will do it,” said Senator Bill Nelson, the highest ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee. efe