Zuckerberg Apologises Over Facebook Data Row In Congress Testimony

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has apologised over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other issues, in printed testimony released on Monday.

The document, released by the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, arrives as Zuckerberg meets with US lawmakers before two days of testimony before Congress that begins on Tuesday.

In the written testimony, Zuckerberg says Facebook is an  “optimistic” company and that it initially focused on “the good that connecting people can bring”.

“But it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well,” he wrote.

Data ‘mistake’

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” Zuckerberg wrote. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

The testimony focuses on Cambridge Analytica’s allegedly improper acquisition of data on 87 million Facebook  users and use of that information in the 2016 US presidential election campaign.

It also discusses the publication of Russian propaganda on the platform.

Zuckerberg said Facebook is making major investments in security and that this would “significantly” affect its future profitability.

“Protecting our community is more important,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg said every app that had access to large amounts of Facebook user data up to 2014 would be investigated. Privacy controls have been made easier to understand, he said.

Better artificial intelligence (AI) tools have now been developed to shut down fake accounts of the kind used in the Russian propaganda campaign, according to the testimony.

Tighter advertising policies now include identity checks on advertisers who run political ads and for those running pages with large followings.

Zuckerberg said is priority was the company’s “social mission” of connecting people.

“Advertisers and developers will never take priority over that as long as I’m running Facebook,” he wrote.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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