Mark Zuckerberg faces Congress for the first time


Watch Live: Mark Zuckerberg testifies before joint Senate hearing

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Welcome to the Mark Zuckerberg Congressional Testimony Live Blog Extravaganza from NBC News!

We’re here to keep track of what should be a long day of testimony while also providing you with some context, fact checking, and just a bit of levity.

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The basics: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying before a joint session of two Senate committees: Judiciary and Commerce. That will mean a total of 44 senators, all of whom are allotted around five minutes each for questions and answers. That means we could be here allllllll day.

What they’ll ask: Likely about the company’s handling of user data, particularly as it pertains to the scandal surrounding how data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica was able to target ads based off the Facebook data of around 87 million users. It’s also likely that Zuckerberg will face questions over how the company missed that Russia-linked accounts were using Facebook to spread divisive political messages.

It’s a pivotal moment for Zuckerberg — who is facing Congress for the first time — and the U.S. government, both of which have been slow to respond to the issues posed by Facebook.

Status Update

Jason Abbruzzese
11 minutes ago

Senators introduce a privacy bill of rights

Timing! Senators Ed Markey, D-MA., and Richard Blumenthal, D-CT., have introduced a new bill that would force the Federal Trade Commission to create privacy rules to be enforced on big tech companies.

«America deserves a privacy bill of rights that puts consumers, not corporations, in control of their personal, sensitive information,” Markey said in a statement.

Anna Brand
14 minutes ago

A Trump weighs in

Donald Trump Jr. was the first Trump family member to tweet a reaction to the hearing today. No surprise here, it was about bias on the platform.

President Trump has yet to tweet on this since Zuckerberg’s hearing began a little over two hours ago.

Wow. Credit where credit is due, at least someone finally acknowledges the left wing bias at these social platforms. Now, the real questions is will they actually do anything about it? https://t.co/BjbxC9vqaN

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 10, 2018

Jason Abbruzzese
24 minutes ago

Zuckerberg corrects his answer on Cambridge Analytica

Zuckerberg comes back from break with a correction on his previous answer as to why Facebook didn’t kick Cambridge Analytica off its platform. He said that his team told him that Cambridge Analytica was on the platform as an advertiser in 2015, contrary to his initial answer.

Jonathan Allen
29 minutes ago

Cruz grills Zuckerberg on political bias

Under the most intense questioning of the day so far, Zuckerberg told Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that the company didn’t make decisions about content or personnel based on political preferences.

Many Americans are “deeply concerned” that Facebook engaged in a “pattern of bias and political censorship” in recent years, Cruz said. He listed the Conservative Political Action Conference, a House Republican investigation into the IRS and Glenn Beck, a conservative media personality who was among Cruz’s most high-profile supporters, as victims of potential bias at Facebook.

Zuckerberg said there was no such effort to harm conservatives and also rebuffed Cruz’s suggestion that a Facebook employee might have been fired over political differences with the company’s leadership. Facebook’s political action committee gave Cruz $3,500 in the 2012 election cycle but has not donated to him since.

The exchange stood out in large part because many of the other senators seemed reluctant to go after the Facebook founder.

Jason Abbruzzese
32 minutes ago

Zuckerberg trending on Facebook

Micah Grimes, head of social here at NBC News, noticed that Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony has cracked into Facebooks’ trending topics.

Zuckerberg's testimony is trending in my Facebook trending panel. pic.twitter.com/5t27LsYrAY

— Micah Grimes (@MicahGrimes) April 10, 2018

Brandy Zadrozny
33 minutes ago

Cambridge Analytica Linked to Russian Trolls?

Senator Klobuchar asked Zuckerberg whether Cambridge Analytica and the Russian disinformation campaign run out of Saint Petersburg’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) many have been targeting the same users.

«We’re investigating that now. We believe that it is entirely possible that there will be a connection there,” Zuckerberg answered.

Facebook estimates that 126 million people were exposed to IRA content on its platform while 87 million of its users’ data was swept up by Cambridge Analytica, but this is the first suggestion by the company that there may be a link between the two.

Claire Atkinson
43 minutes ago

What is Total Information Awareness?

As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explains…»Total Information Awareness was the brainchild of John Poindexter, the Reagan administration official who got his conviction in the Iran-Contra scandal overturned on appeal. At the time, it was designed to be a sweeping new electronic data-mining program, to access all sorts of digital information from just about anywhere.»

Jason Abbruzzese
44 minutes ago

Facebook is 'responsible' for content

This is quite a statement from Mark Zuckerberg: «I agree that we are responsible for the content.»

Facebook, like many online platforms, have for years clung to the notion of «safe harbor» — that tech platforms are most definitely NOT responsible for what’s on their platform.

Zuckerberg contradicting that is no small thing — and something that could mean big changes for Facebook and other major tech companies it safe harbor becomes a thing of the past.


Carrie Dann
an hour ago

Just a rough estimate

By my count, the average age of the senators who have questioned Zuckerberg so far is 71.

— Carrie Dann (@CarrieNBCNews) April 10, 2018

Jonathan Allen
an hour ago

Zuckerberg doesn’t want you to know where he sleeps

It sounded pretty personal: Would Zuckerberg share the name of the hotel he stayed in last night in an open hearing, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., asked.

No, a surprised-sounding Zuckerberg said, he would not. The exchange drew a round of hearty chuckles. 

What about the names of the people he’d interacted with through direct messages in the past week?

“No,” Zuckerberg said, still sounding a little thrown off by Durbin’s line of questioning. “I would not choose to do that publicly here.”

That, Durbin said, is the reason lawmakers and the public are concerned about Facebook’s use of personal data.

People are worried about the “right to privacy — the limits of your right to privacy and how much you give away in modern American in the name of ‘connecting people.’”

Zuckerberg jumped to defend his company’s privacy policies, which he’d previously acknowledged few users ever read, and noted that users can choose privacy settings on their pages.

“I think everyone should have control over how their information is used,” he said. “That is laid out in some of the documents, but, more importantly, you want to give people control in the product itself.”

Jason Abbruzzese
an hour ago

TV starting to turn away from Zuckerberg testimony

Just about every TV news operation started off on the Zuckerberg testimony but many of them are moving on — a change that won’t upset anyone at Facebook.

ABC & CBS have already cut from the Zuckerberg hearing; CNN panel talking over it.

— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) April 10, 2018

Jonathan Allen
an hour ago

Zuckerberg gives tepid support to 72-hour rule

On first blush, Zuckerberg said, he likes the idea of a regulation requiring companies to tell users within 72 hours if their data privacy has been breached.

“That makes sense to me,” Zuckerberg told Sen. Amy Klobuchar, R-Minn. But he left a little wiggle room: “I think we should have our team follow up with yours.”

Brandy Zadrozny
an hour ago

GDPR in the U.S.?

Zuckerberg addressed whether Facebook would extend the privacy protections recently codified in Europe to users in the United States on a call with reporters last week, calling the new European regulations, “very positive.”

“We intend to make all the same controls and settings available everywhere, not just in Europe. Is it going to be exactly the same format? Probably not. We need to figure out what makes sense in different markets with the different laws and different places. But — let me repeat this — we’ll make all controls and settings the same everywhere, not just in Europe.»

Passed in 2016 and set to take effect this May, the GDPR institutes strict rules about the kind of data that companies can collect and store, and gives users more control over their own privacy, including in some instances, the ability to request deletion of one’s data under their ‘right to be forgotten.’ It also sets fines and penalties for data misuse and breaches.

Anna Brand
an hour ago

Zuckerberg has apologized once so far


Jason Abbruzzese
an hour ago

Zuckerberg has a lot of following up to do

He’s gonna have some homework. Zuckerberg has dodged a handful of questions by saying he would follow up with senators about certain topics.

And people are starting to notice.

Imagine the poor soul at Facebook who'll have all this follow-up work dumped on them now

— Brian Fung (@b_fung) April 10, 2018

"I'll have my team follow up with you."

Drink.

— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) April 10, 2018

Jason Abbruzzese
an hour ago

Lindsey Graham pushes Zuckerberg on competition (or lack thereof)

Some of the toughest questioning so far comes from Sen. Lindsey Graham, who pushes Zuckerberg on whether Facebook is a monopoly.

When asked straight up whether Facebook has a monopoly, Zuckerberg responds «It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.» The response is met with some gentle laughter.

Graham stays on him, also asking about European regulations and if those rules are right.

«I think they get things right,» Zuckerberg responds, followed by a few more light chuckles.

Jonathan Allen
an hour ago

Worst job in the Senate

While Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., asked Zuckerberg about hate speech removal on Facebook, an aide had to stand behind Leahy holding up massive poster-boards with examples of hate speech.

Anna Brand
an hour ago

Watch Zuckerberg's full opening statement

He said «I’m sorry» just one time.

Kasie Hunt
an hour ago

Who's sitting behind Zuckerberg?

Joel Kaplan VP of global policy — seated in the left of the frame / Zuckerberg’s right.

Myriah Jordan public policy director — seated in the right of the frame / Zuckerberg’s left.

Per a Facebook spokesperson.

Jonathan Allen
an hour ago

Facebook talking to Special Counsel

Under questioning from Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., Zuckerberg says Facebook has been working with the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. He says he has not personally spoken to the special counsel. «I have not,» he said.

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