WASHINGTON (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sounded contrite in prepared congressional remarks and said Facebook didn’t do enough to prevent its tools from being used for harm.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee released his opening testimony Monday, as Zuckerberg was also meeting privately with lawmakers ahead of his first time testifying on Capitol Hill.
Zuckerberg will testify in the Senate on Tuesday and in the House on Wednesday about the company’s ongoing data-privacy scandal and how it failed to guard against other abuses. He is also expected to be asked about Russia’s use of social media during the 2016 U.S. elections.
In the prepared remarks, Zuckerberg said the company has a responsibility to make sure what happened with Cambridge Analytica doesn’t happen again. He also said Facebook should have done more.
“That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy,” he said. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”
Facebook is under fire in the worst privacy crisis in its history after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-affiliated data-mining firm, used ill-gotten personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections.
“We face a number of important issues around privacy, safety, and democracy, and you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer,” Zuckerberg said.
The prepared remarks did not reveal new information. In addition to saying he is sorry — something he has done several times already — Zuckerberg outlined the steps the company has taken to restrict outsiders’ access to people’s personal information on Facebook. He also said the company is investigating every app that had access to a large amount of information before the company moved to prevent such access in 2014 — something that came too late in the Cambridge Analytica case.
Zuckerberg also addressed Russian election interference and acknowledged, as he has in the past, that the company was too slow to respond and that it’s “working hard to get better.”
“We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference, and we will do our part not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world,” Zuckerberg continued.
Separately, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that the company is establishing an independent election research commission that will look into the effects of social media on elections and democracy. He said the commission will work with foundations across the U.S. to set up a committee of academic experts who will come up with research topics and select independent researchers to study them.
In Washington, Zuckerberg is also meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, according to a spokesman.
One of Zuckerberg’s first meetings on Monday will be with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson. He is the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, which will hold a joint hearing Tuesday with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nelson and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune asked Zuckerberg to testify to “restore lost trust” in the company.
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