Zuckerberg assures Congress that Facebook is not listening to users' conversations


Speaking to the gravity of the situation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg traveled down to Capitol Hill this week where he fielded pointed questions from lawmakers about data privacy and a range of other issues. "Yes, right now we have the wind at our backs, but unless people around the country stay on this, this can very quickly devolve into a giveaway for tech". He said he was among the almost 87 million people whose personal information was improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. But after it was over, Walden acknowledged there's little consensus.

And last week the European Union had said that its justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, would hold phone talks with Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to discuss what the company is doing to address the breach, which may have affected 87 million people around the world.

Despite Zuckerberg reiterating that Facebook later reduced the amount of data developers could collect, some lawmakers still expressed concern that once any data leaves Facebook's systems, the company has no idea how it's used. While this week the Silicon Valley giant's stock has experience a modest recovery as its CEO appears calm and collected in front of USA lawmakers, the high-flying FAANG stock saw roughly $100 billion shaved off its market capitalization in the weeks following its latest data crisis.

The top Democrat on the panel, New Jersey Rep. "So, now, we have to go through every part of our relationship with people to make sure that we're taking a broad enough view of our responsibility", he said. As Hawaii senator Brian Schatz put it, "Everybody kind of understands that when you click like on something, or if you say you like a certain movie or have a particular political proclivity, I think that's fair game". It also would allow customers to opt out of having their data sold. This needs to change.

Pallone, however, said he is "pessimistic that it happens with the Republican majority".

If Zuckerberg agrees, it would bring him face-to-face with some of the tech industry's toughest critics outside of the United States, who will begin implementing new rules in May that would fine companies for mishandling consumers' sensitive information. On Tuesday, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, highlighted a recent comment by United Nations investigators that Facebook played a role "in inciting possible genocide" and asked why the company took so long to remove death threats toward one Muslim journalist there. Just a few moments earlier, though, he had struggled to name direct competitors.

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He talked of a whole programme at the university, where a number of researchers were building similar apps to that made by Dr Kogan for Cambridge Analytica.

"Break up FB?" said a bullet item in the written talking points.

"The only thing that I was surprised at was there was a listing of about 10 companies in the advertising area that had my email address". So, to put those numbers into better perspective, that means around 36.38 million people in the U.S. have deleted the Facebook phone app, while 19.26 million have deleted their accounts altogether.

One of the more pressing concerns of Congress during this second hearing was how Facebook tracks user data around the world, as well as those that have yet to even sign up to the site, dubbed "shadow profiles".

"Imagine if competition authorities forced Facebook to open its walled garden and allow third party apps to interoperate without all the invasive properties of the Facebook app", Hoofnagle said. Rather, they're expressions of a vaguely utopian worldview that infects much of Zuckerberg's thinking. "What's happening in Myanmar is a awful tragedy, and we need to do more", Zuckerberg admitted to Leahy, using another name for Burma.