Facebook scandal reveals startling power of social media

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday

Dianne Feinstein after meeting with Feinstein on Capitol Hill on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.

The 33-year-old Facebook chief's testimony was released ahead of the first of two scheduled appearances before congressional committees on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He is confronting combined outrage over how Russian Federation used Facebook to spread divisive political propaganda during the 2016 USA presidential election and how Facebook seemed unaware that a political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, improperly harvested personal data of about 87 million Facebook users, a lot of them Americans.

For hearings a year ago about Russia's alleged use of social media to influence American politics, Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google sent lawyers, angering lawmakers. Eastern Time (ET). The following day, Zuckerberg is set to be grilled by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee at 10 a.m. ET. "The company really is at a moment of reckoning", he told NPR.

Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to "show everyone a tool at the top of your News Feed with the apps you've used and an easy way to revoke those apps' permissions to your data".

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake", reads his statement.

"I am interested to learn what Mr. Zuckerberg says in testimony to Congress this week", said U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19. "They are going to want to be seen as being responsive to public disgruntlement with how Facebook handled the issue", said Ari Ratner, founder of communications consultancy Inside Revolution and former Obama administration official.

Facebook has rolled out a series of changes on its platform in recent weeks aimed at bolstering data privacy and advertising transparency. "That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech", Zuckerberg said.

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. "The internet does not protect individual privacy and Congress should consider whether the digital arena should be regulated to provide such protections".

It's like a weird, unlucky bingo: from today, more than 300,000 Australians will be told by Facebook that Cambridge Analytica used their personal data.

"We organised "get out the vote" efforts that helped more than 2 million people register to vote who might not have voted otherwise", Zuckerberg says.

He also says 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.

His conciliatory tone precedes two days of congressional hearings where Zuckerberg is set to answer questions about Facebook user data being improperly appropriated by a political consultancy and the role the network played in the US 2016 election. "We didn't build in the proper privacy controls right away".

By flooding the zone with product fixes and executive interviews, Facebook has effectively armed Zuckerberg with more convincing talking points to use when he gets grilled by Congress.

Peters said he hasn't had the chance to review Zuckerberg's prepared remarks but said it would be most prudent to wait until after this week's hearings before suggesting any legislation.

Cambridge Analytica had the idea to turn that information into a political weapon.

But he also took the blame for the dark side of Facebook.

Facebook has said it has seen little impact on its business from the privacy scandal despite a #deleteFacebook movement and concerns from advertisers.

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