Tri-Caucus Senators Press Facebook CEO
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) spent her portion of yesterday’s questioning of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on how the decision was made in 2015 to not inform the 87 million users that their data had been improperly sold off. “You, meaning Facebook, and I’m going to assume you personally as CEO, became aware in December of 2015 that Dr Kogan and Cambridge Analytica misappropriated data from 87 million Facebook users. That’s 27 months ago,” she said. “However, a decision was made not to notify the users. So my question is did anyone at Facebook have a conversation, at the time that you became aware of this breach, have a conversation wherein the decision was made not to contact the users?” After some back and forth, Zuckerberg conceded to the former prosecutor that a decision had indeed been made not to inform users of the breach. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) focused on what control individual users have over their data and user privacy, and how Facebook failed to address the issue of protecting user data after a 2011 Federal Trade Commission consent decree. Zuckerberg assured her of a robust privacy program, but Cortez Masto pressed him on specifics. “Had you done an audit, had you looked at the third party applications and their associated data storage as well, you would have known that this type of data information was being shared,” she said. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) asked Zuckerberg if his company would ever assist Trump administration officials in identifying undocumented immigrants. He said they would not. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) pressed Zuckerberg on Facebook having a political bias. Zuckerberg conceded that Silicon Valley is “an extremely left-leaning place,” but denied Cruz’s insinuation that the bias had infiltrated the machinations of Facebook. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) used his time to press Zuckerberg on "a growing sense of distrust" among members of the civil rights community because of the lack of diversity in the technology industry. The concern is that the people overseeing these posts are not going to be members of the communities most hurt by them. Zuckerberg responded positively to Booker's suggestion that members of civil rights groups be allowed to audit the companies posting such ads to ensure they do not discriminate. Zuckerberg also agreed with Booker's concern about law enforcement officials using Facebook to monitor civil rights organizations, such as Black Lives Matter. Today, the 33-year-old CEO will face the House Energy and Commerce Committee which is comprised of the following Tri-Caucus members: Bobby Rush (D-IL), GK Butterfield (D-NC), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), and Raúl Ruiz (D-CA). On the GOP side, Zuckerberg will face Congressmen Bill Flores (R-TX) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK).