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The April 11 written congressional testimony of Mark Zuckerberg is already available, and what the Facebook CEO told senators on April 10 is of considerable interest. It was “my mistake,” he said, that the Cambridge Analytica firm had purloined the data of 87 million Facebook users. Zuckerberg said he was sorry and was taking steps to prevent it from happening again. It emerged in testimony that the 2012 presidential incumbent had strip-mined data on a massive scale with full cooperation from Facebook, which is now colluding with government in a different way.
As Zuckerberg confirmed, Facebook is cooperating with the investigation by Robert Mueller. The former FBI boss has interviewed some Facebook employees, but Zuckerberg would not say who they are. “I want to be careful here because our work with the special counsel is confidential,” he explained, “and I want to make sure that in an open session I’m not revealing something that is confidential.” This is the same guy who either approved, facilitated, or looked the other way at massive transfers of private data to non-government actors. He also told senators that Facebook would “proactively” cooperate with law enforcement only in the case of an “imminent threat of harm,” or when law enforcement presented a “valid legal request” for data.
Some senators complained about issue ads, and Zuckerberg responded by saying he was hiring as many as 20,000 new people to vet this material. Senator Cory Booker wanted “civil rights organizations” to be involved, which the Facebook CEO called a “good idea,” agreeing with Booker that the entire tech industry “lacks diversity.” When asked by Sen. Ted Cruz if Facebook was a “neutral forum,” the CEO seemed puzzled. Asked by Sen. Cory Gardner if the government had ever demanded that Facebook remove a page from the site, Zuckerberg said “yes, I believe so.” The Facebook CEO did not indicate the content of the page, which government official had demanded its removal, and when the removal had taken place.
Zuckerberg touted new measures to guard user privacy, but he did let slip that Facebook had been hacked. Details were sketchy, but as the CEO explained, “security is never a solved problem.” Observers could be forgiven for believing that their Facebook data is never secure and that the billionaire boss is most careful to guard confidentiality when he is collaborating with government investigators.