WASHINGTON – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg brought his apology tour to the Capitol Monday, admitting he “didn’t do enough” to prevent his company’s technology from being used for nefarious purposes.
Zuckerberg ditched his signature T-shirt and donned a suit and tie for one-on-meetings with senators before he testifies publicly in two days of congressional hearings.
He was swarmed by reporters as he headed to the private sit-downs and ignored shouted questions about a major data breach by a political firm hired by President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Instead, Facebook issued Zuckerberg’s prepared testimony in which he concedes his company could have done more to prevent fake news, foreign interference in elections, hate speech and data breaches.
“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” Zuckerberg said in remarks he plans to deliver Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”
Lawmakers are skeptical that the social media giant is equipped to provide more transparency and privacy without the strong arm of Washington.
“The message that I wanted to convey to him (is) that if we don’t rein in the misuse of social media, none of us are going to have any privacy anymore, “ said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) after a nearly one-hour meeting with Zuckerberg.
“…My sense is that he takes this seriously because he knows there will be a hard look at regulation.”
Nelson declined to say what specific legislation he has in mind.
But he expressed doubt anything could be passed with control of the White House and Congress in the hands of Republicans, who are traditionally allergic to added regulations on private companies.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Sunday he does not want to “regulate Facebook half to death, but we do have two major problems we’ve discovered. One is the privacy issue and the other is the propagandist issue.”
Zuckerberg met privately with leaders of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees, which will host a joint hearing Tuesday afternoon.
He’ll be in the hot seat for hours as 44 senators pepper him with questions about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Facebook has pledged more ad transparency and rolled out new tools to protect users’ privacy.
The company started showing everyone a list of the apps they have used and ways to revoke permission to share data with them. Facebook is also alerting everyone whose personal information was shared with Cambridge Analytica.
It has suspended another data analytics firm called CubeYou from the platform for harvesting user data through quizzes.
Zuckerberg insisted he would never sell out Facebooks’ 2 billion users worldwide — including 214 million in the US — for a quick buck.
“My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together,” Zuckerberg said. “Advertisers and developers will never take priority over that as long as I’m running Facebook.”
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”