GRASSLEY: Although not unprecedented, this is a unique hearing. The issues we will consider range from data privacy and security to consumer protection and the Federal Trade Commission enforcement touching on jurisdictions of these two committees.
We have 44 members between our two committees. That may not seem like a large group by Facebook standards ...
... but it is significant here for a hearing in the United States Senate. We will do our best to keep things moving efficiently given our circumstances. We will begin with opening statements from the chairmen and ranking members of each committee, starting with Chairman Thune, and then proceed to Mr. Zuckerberg's opening statement.
We will then move onto questioning. Each member will have five minutes to question witnesses.
I'd like to remind the members of both committees that time limits will be and must be strictly enforced given the numbers that we have here today. If you're over your time, Chairman Thune and I will make sure to let you know. There will not be a second round as well. Of course there will be the usual follow-up written questions for the record. Questioning will alternate between majority and minority and between committees. We will proceed in order based on respective committee seniority.
We will anticipate a couple short breaks later in the afternoon.
And so it's my pleasure to recognize the chairman of the Commerce Committee, Chairman Thune, for his opening statement.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-S.D.): Thank you, Chairman Grassley.
Today's hearing is extraordinary. It's extraordinary to hold a joint committee hearing. It's even more extraordinary to have a single CEO testify before nearly half of the United States Senate.
But then, Facebook is pretty extraordinary. More than 2 billion people use Facebook every month. 1.4 billion people use it every day; more than the population of any country on Earth except China, and more than four times the population of the United States. It's also more than 1,500 times the population of my home state of South Dakota.
Plus, roughly 45 percent of American adults report getting at least some of their news from Facebook.
In many respects, Facebook's incredible reach is why we're here today. We're here because of what you, Mr. Zuckerberg, have described as a breach of trust.
A quiz app used by approximately 300,000 people led to information about 87 million Facebook users being obtained by the company Cambridge Analytica.
There are plenty of questions about the behavior of Cambridge Analytica and we expect to hold a future hearing on Cambridge and similar firms. But as you've said, this is not likely to be an isolated incident; a fact demonstrated by Facebook's suspension of another firm just this past weekend.
THUNE: You've promised that when Facebook discovers other apps that had access to large amounts of user data, you will ban them and tell those affected. And that's appropriate, but it's unlikely to be enough for the 2 billion Facebook users.
One reason that so many people are worried about this incident is what it says about how Facebook works. The idea that for every person who decided to try an app, information about nearly 300 other people was scraped from your service is, to put it mildly, disturbing.
And the fact that those 87 million people may have technically consented to making their data available doesn't make those people feel any better.
The recent revelation that malicious actors were able to utilize Facebook's default privacy settings to match email addresses and phone numbers found on the so-called Dark Web to public Facebook profiles potentially affecting all Facebook users only adds fuel to the fire.
What binds these two incidents is that they don't appear to be caused by the kind of negligence that allows typical data breaches to happen. Instead they both appear to be the result of people exploiting the very tools that you created to manipulate users' information.
I know Facebook has taken several steps, and intends to take more, to address these issues. Nevertheless, some have warned that the actions Facebook is taking to ensure that third parties do not obtain data from unsuspecting users, while necessary, will actually serve to enhance Facebook's own ability to market such data exclusively.
Most of us understand that whether you are using Facebook or Google or some other online services, we are trading certain information about ourselves for free or low-cost services. But for this model to persist, both sides of the bargain need to know the stakes that are involved. Right now I am not convinced that Facebook's users have the information that they need to make meaningful choices.
In the past, many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been willing to defer to tech companies' efforts to regulate themselves, but this may be changing.
Just last month, in overwhelming bipartisan fashion, Congress voted to make it easier for prosecutors and victims to go after websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking. This should be a wake-up call for the tech community.
We want to hear more, without delay, about what Facebook and other companies plan to do to take greater responsibility for what happens on their platforms.
How will you protect users' data? How will you inform users about the changes that you are making? And how do you intend to proactively stop harmful conduct instead of being forced to respond to it months or years later?
Mr. Zuckerberg, in many ways you and the company that you created, the story that you've created represents the American Dream. Many are incredibly inspired by what you've done.
At the same time, you have an obligation, and it's up to you, to ensure that that dream does not becalm a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook.
This hearing is an opportunity to speak to those who believe in Facebook and those who are deeply skeptical about it. We are listening, America is listening and quite possibly the world is listening, too.
Now Ranking Member Feinstein.
DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CALIF.): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Grassley, Chairman Thune, thank you both for holding this hearing.
Mr. Zuckerberg, thank you for being here. You have a real opportunity this afternoon to lead the industry and demonstrate a meaningful commitment to protecting individual privacy.
We have learned over the past few months, and we've learned a great deal that's alarming. We've seen how foreign actors are abusing social media platforms like Facebook to interfere in elections and take millions of Americans' personal information without their knowledge in order to manipulate public opinion and target individual voters.
Specifically, on February the 16th, Special Counsel Mueller issued an indictment against the Russia-based Internet Research Agency and 13 of its employees for interfering (sic) operations targeting the United States.
Through this 37-page indictment, we learned that the IRA ran a coordinated campaign through 470 Facebook accounts and pages. The campaign included ads and false information to create discord and harm Secretary Clinton's campaign, and the content was seen by an estimated 157 million Americans.
A month later, on March 17th, news broke that Cambridge Analytica exploited the personal information of approximately 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge or permission. And, last week, we learned that number was even higher: 87 million Facebook users who had their private information taken without their consent.
Specifically, using a personality quiz he created, Professor Kogan collected the personal information of 300,000 Facebook users, and then collected data on millions of their friends.
It appears the information collected included everything these individuals had on their Facebook pages and, according to some reports, even included private direct messages between users.
Professor Kogan is said to have taken data from over 70 million Americans. It has also been reported that he sold this data to Cambridge Analytica for $800,000 dollars. Cambridge Analytica then took this data and created a psychological warfare tool to influence United States elections.
In fact, the CEO, Alexander Nix, declared that Cambridge Analytica ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and its data informed all the strategy for the Trump campaign.
The reporting has also speculated that Cambridge Analytica worked with the Internet Research Agency to help Russia identify which American voters to target, which its — with its propaganda.
I'm concerned that press reports indicate Facebook learned about this breach in 2015, but appears not to have taken significant steps to address it until this year.
So this hearing is important, and I appreciate the conversation we had yesterday. And I believe that Facebook, through your presence here today and the words you're about to tell us, will indicate how strongly your industry will regulate and/or reform the platforms that they control.
FEINSTEIN: I believe this is extraordinarily important. You lead a big company with 27,000 employees, and we very much look forward to your comments.
GRASSLEY: Thank you, Senator Feinstein.
The history and growth of Facebook mirrors that of many of our technological giants. Founded by Mr. Zuckerberg in 2004, Facebook has exploded over the past 14 years. Facebook currently has over 2 billion monthly active users across the world, over 25,000 employees, and offices in 13 U.S. cities and various other countries.
Like their expanding user base, the data collected on Facebook users has also skyrocketed. They have moved on from schools, likes and relationship statuses. Today, Facebook has access of data points, ranging from ads that you've clicked on, events you've attended and your location, based upon your mobile device.
It is no secret that Facebook makes money off this data through advertising revenue, although many seem confused by or altogether unaware of this fact. Facebook generates — generated $40 billion in revenue in 2017, with about 98 percent coming from advertising across Facebook and Instagram.
Significant data collection is also occurring at Google, Twitter, Apple, and Amazon. And even — an ever-expanding portfolio of products and services offered by these companies grant endless opportunities to collect increasing amounts of information on their customers.
As we get more free or extremely low-cost services, the trade-off for the American consumer is to provide more personal data. The potential for further growth and innovation based on collection of data is unlimitedless. However, the potential for abuse is also significant.
While the contours of the Cambridge Analytica situation are still coming to light, there was clearly a breach of consumer trust and a likely improper transfer of data. The Judiciary Committee will hold a separate hearing exploring Cambridge and other data privacy issues.
More importantly, though, these events have ignited a larger discussion on consumers' expectations and the future of data privacy in our society. It has exposed that consumers may not fully understand or appreciate the extent to which their data is collected, protected, transferred, used and misused.
Data has been used in advertising and political campaigns for decades. The amount and type of data obtained, however, has seen a very dramatic change. Campaigns including Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump all use these increasing amounts of data to focus on microtargeting and personalization over numerous social media platforms, and especially Facebook.
In fact, Presidents — Obama's campaign developed an app utilizing the same Facebook feature as Cambridge Analytica to capture the information of not just the app's users, but millions of their friends.
GRASSLEY: The digital director for that campaign for 2012 described the data-scraping app as something that would, quote, “wind up being the most groundbreaking piece of technology developed for this campaign,” end of quote.
So the effectiveness of these social media tactics can be debated. But their use over the past years, across the political spectrum, and their increased significance cannot be ignored. Our policy towards data privacy and security must keep pace with these changes.
Data privacy should be tethered to consumer needs and expectations. Now, at a minimum, consumers must have the transparency necessary to make an informed decision about whether to share their data and how it can be used.
Consumers ought to have clearer information, not opaque policies and complex click-through consent pages. The tech industry has an obligation to respond to widespread and growing concerns over data privacy and security and to restore the public's trust.
The status quo no longer works. Moreover, Congress must determine if and how we need to strengthen privacy standards to ensure transparency and understanding for the billions of consumers who utilize these products.
BILL NELSON (D-FLA.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Zuckerberg, good afternoon.
Let me just cut to the chase. If you and other social media companies do not get your act in order, none of us are going to have any privacy anymore. That's what we're facing.
We're talking about personally identifiable information that, if not kept by the social media — media companies from theft, a value that we have in America, being our personal privacy — we won't have it anymore. It's the advent of technology.
And, of course, all of us are part of it. From the moment that we wake up in the morning, until we go to bed, we're on those handheld tablets. And online companies like Facebook are tracking our activities and collecting information.
Facebook has a responsibility to protect this personal information. We had a good discussion yesterday. We went over all of this. You told me that the company had failed to do so.
It's not the first time that Facebook has mishandled its users' information. The FTC found that Facebook's privacy policies had deceived users in the past. And, in the present case, we recognize that Cambridge Analytica and an app developer lied to consumers and lied to you, lied to Facebook.
But did Facebook watch over the operations? We want to know that. And why didn't Facebook notify 87 million users that their personally identifiable information had been taken, and it was being also used — why were they not informed — for unauthorized political purposes?
NELSON: So, only now — and I appreciate our conversation — only now, Facebook has pledged to inform those consumers whose accounts were compromised.
I think you are genuine. I got that sense in conversing with you. You want to do the right thing. You want to enact reforms. We want to know if it's going to be enough. And I hope that will be the in the answers today.
Now, since we still don't know what Cambridge Analytica has done with this data, you heard Chairman Thune say, as we have discussed, we want to haul Cambridge Analytica in to answer these questions at a separate hearing.
I want to thank Chairman Thune for working with all of us on scheduling a hearing. There's obviously a great deal of interest in this subject. I hope we can get to the bottom of this. And, if Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix the privacy invasions, then we are going to have to — we, the Congress.
How can American consumers trust folks like your company to be caretakers of their most personal and identifiable information? And that's the question.
GRASSLEY: Thank you, my colleagues and Senator Nelson.
Our witness today is Mark Zuckerberg, founder, chairman, chief executive officer of Facebook. Mr. Zuckerberg launched Facebook February 4th, 2004, at the age of 19. And, at that time, he was a student at Harvard University.
As I mentioned previously, his company now has over $40 billion of annual revenue and over 2 billion, monthly, active users. Mr. Zuckerberg, along with his wife, also established the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to further philanthropy causes.
I now turn to you. Welcome to the committee, and, whatever your statement is orally — if you have a longer one, it'll be included in the record. So, proceed, sir.
MARK ZUCKERBERG: Chairman Grassley, Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Feinstein, Ranking Member Nelson and members of the committee, we face a number of important issues around privacy, safety and democracy. And you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer. Before I talk about the steps we're taking to address them, I want to talk about how we got here.
Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all of the good that connecting people can do. And, as Facebook has grown, people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool for staying connected to the people they love, for making their voices heard and for building communities and businesses.
Just recently, we've seen the “Me Too” movement and the March for our Lives organized, at least in part, on Facebook. After Hurricane Harvey, people came together to raise more than $20 million for relief. And more than 70 million businesses — small business use Facebook to create jobs and grow.
But it's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm, as well. And that goes for fake news, for foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.
ZUCKERBERG: We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake. And I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here.
So, now, we have to go through our — all of our relationship with people and make sure that we're taking a broad enough view of our responsibility.
It's not enough to just connect people. We have to make sure that those connections are positive. It's not enough to just give people a voice. We need to make sure that people aren't using it to harm other people or to spread misinformation. And it's not enough to just give people control over their information. We need to make sure that the developers they share it with protect their information, too.
Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure that they're used for good. It will take some time to work through all the changes we need to make across the company, but I'm committed to getting this right. This includes the basic responsibility of protecting people's information, which we failed to do with Cambridge Analytica.
So here are a few things that we are doing to address this and to prevent it from happening again.
First, we're getting to the bottom of exactly what Cambridge Analytica did, and telling everyone affected. What we know now is that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed some information about millions of Facebook members by buying it from an app developer.
That information — this was information that people generally share publicly on their Facebook pages, like names and their profile picture and the pages they follow.
When we first contacted Cambridge Analytica, they told us that they had deleted the data. About a month ago, we heard new reports that suggested that wasn't true. And, now, we're working with governments in the U.S., the U.K. and around the world to do a full audit of what they've done and to make sure they get rid of any data they may still have.
Second, to make sure no other app developers out there are misusing data, we're now investigating every single app that had access to a large amount of information in the past. And, if we find that someone improperly used data, we're going to ban them from Facebook and tell everyone affected.
Third, to prevent this from ever happening again, going forward, we're making sure that developers can't access as much information now. The good news here is that we already made big changes to our platform in 2014 that would have prevented this specific situation with Cambridge Analytica from occurring again today.
But there's more to do, and you can find more details on the steps we're taking in my written statement.
My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together. Advertisers and developers will never take priority over that, as long as I am running Facebook.
I started Facebook when I was in college. We've come a long way since then. We now serve more than 2 billion people around the world. And, every day, people use our services to stay connected with the people that matter to them most.
I believe deeply in what we are doing. And I know that, when we address these challenges we'll look back and view helping people connect and giving more people a voice as a positive force in the world.
I realize the issues we're talking about today aren't just issues for Facebook and our community. They're issues and challenges for all of us as Americans.
Thank you for having me here today, and I'm ready to take your questions.
GRASSLEY: I'll remind members that, maybe, weren't here when I had my opening comments that we are operating under the five-year — the five-minute rule. And that applies to ...
... the five-minute rule. And that applies to those of us who are chairing the committee, as well.
GRASSLEY: I'll start with you.
Facebook handles extensive amounts of personal data for billions of users. A significant amount of that data is shared with third-party developers, who utilize your platform.
As of this — early this year, you did not actively monitor whether that data was transferred by such developers to other parties. Moreover, your policies only prohibit transfers by developers to parties seeking to profit from such data.
Number one, besides Professor Kogan's transfer and now, potentially, Cubeyou, do you know of any instances where user data was improperly transferred to third party in breach of Facebook's terms? If so, how many times has that happened, and was Facebook only made aware of that transfer by some third party?
ZUCKERBERG: Mr. Chairman, thank you.
As I mentioned, we're now conducting a full investigation into every single app that had a — access to a large amount of information, before we locked down platform to prevent developers from accessing this information around 2014.
We believe that we're going to be investigating many apps, tens of thousands of apps. And, if we find any suspicious activity, we're going to conduct a full audit of those apps to understand how they're using their data and if they're doing anything improper. If we find that they're doing anything improper, we'll ban them from Facebook and we will tell everyone affected.
As for past activity, I don't have all the examples of apps that we've banned here, but if you would like, I can have my team follow up with you after this.
Have you ever required an audit to ensure the deletion of improperly transferred data? And, if so, how many times?
ZUCKERBERG: Mr. Chairman, yes we have. I don't have the exact figure on how many times we have. But, overall, the way we've enforced our platform policies in the past is we have looked at patterns of how apps have used our APIs and accessed information, as well as looked into reports that people have made to us about apps that might be doing sketchy things.
Going forward, we're going to take a more proactive position on this and do much more regular stock checks and other reviews of apps, as well as increasing the amount of audits that we do. And, again, I can make sure that our team follows up with you on anything about the specific past stats that would be interesting.
GRASSLEY: I was going to assume that, sitting here today, you have no idea — and if I'm wrong on that, that you're able — you were telling me, I think, that you're able to supply those figures to us, at least as of this point.
ZUCKERBERG: Mr. Chairman, I will have my team follow up with you on what information we have.
GRASSLEY: Okay but, right now, you have no certainty of whether or not — how much of that's going on, right? Okay.
Facebook collects massive amounts of data from consumers, including content, networks, contact lists, device information, location, and information from third parties, yet your data policy is only a few pages long and provides consumers with only a few examples of what is collected and how it might be used.
The examples given emphasize benign uses, such as “connecting with friends,” but your policy does not give any indication for more controversial issues of such data.
My question: Why doesn't Facebook disclose to its users all the ways that data might be used by Facebook and other third parties? And what is Facebook's responsibility to inform users about that information?
ZUCKERBERG: Mr. Chairman, I believe it's important to tell people exactly how the information that they share on Facebook is going to be used. That's why, every single time you go to share something on Facebook, whether it's a photo in Facebook, or a message — in Messenger or What's App, every single time, there's a control right there about who you're going to be sharing it with — whether it's your friends or public or a specific group — and you can — you can change that and control that in line.
So, one of the things that — that we've struggled with over time is to make something that is as simple as possible so people can understand it, as well as giving them controls in line in the product in the context of when they're trying to actually use them, taking into account that we don't expect that most people will want to go through and read a full legal document.
GRASSLEY: Senator Nelson?
NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Yesterday when we talked, I gave the relatively harmless example that I'm communicating with my friends on Facebook and indicate that I love a certain kind of chocolate. And all of a sudden I start receiving advertisements for chocolate. What if I don't want to receive those commercial advertisements?
So your chief operating officer, Ms. Sandberg, suggested on the NBC “Today Show” that Facebook users who do not want their personal information used for advertising might have to pay for that protection. Pay for it.
Are you actually considering having Facebook users pay for you not to use the information?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, people have a control over how their information is used in ads in the product today. So if you want to have an experience where your ads aren't — aren't targeted using all the information that we have available, you can turn off third-party information.
What we found is that even though some people don't like ads, people really don't like ads that aren't relevant. And while there is some discomfort for sure with using information in making ads more relevant, the overwhelming feedback that we get from our community is that people would rather have us show relevant content there than not.
So we offer this control that — that you're referencing. Some people use it. It's not the majority of people on Facebook. And — and I think that that's — that's a good level of control to offer.
I think what Sheryl was saying was that, in order to not run ads at all, we would still need some sort of business model.
NELSON: And that is your business model. So I take it that — and I used the harmless example of chocolate. But if it got into more personal thing, communicating with friends, and I want to cut it off, I'm going to have to pay you in order not to send me, using my personal information, something that I don't want. That in essence is what I understood Ms. Sandberg to say. Is that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator.
Although to be clear, we don't offer an option today for people to pay to not show ads. We think offering an ad-supported service is the most aligned with our mission of trying to help connect everyone in the world, because we want to offer a free service that everyone can afford.
ZUCKERBERG: That's the only way that we can reach billions of people.
NELSON: But — so, therefore, you consider my personally identifiable data the company's data, not my data. Is that it?
ZUCKERBERG: No, senator. Actually, at — the first line of our Terms of Service say that you control and own the information and content that you put on Facebook.
NELSON: Well, the recent scandal is obviously frustrating, not only because it affected 87 million, but because it seems to be part of a pattern of lax data practices by the company, going back years.
So, back in 2011, it was a settlement with the FTC. And, now, we discover yet another incidence where the data was failed to be protected. When you discovered that Cambridge Analytica — that had fraudulently obtained all of this information, why didn't you inform those 87 million?
ZUCKERBERG: When we learned in 2015 that Cambridge Analytica had bought data from an app developer on Facebook that people had shared it with, we did take action.
We took down the app, and we demanded that both the app developer and Cambridge Analytica delete and stop using any data that they had. They told us that they did this. In retrospect, it was clearly a mistake to believe them ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... and we should have followed up and done a full audit then. And that is not a mistake that we will make.
NELSON: Yes, you did that, and you apologized for it. But you didn't notify them. And do you think that you have an ethical obligation to notify 87 million Facebook users?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, when we heard back from Cambridge Analytica that they had told us that they weren't using the data and had deleted it, we considered it a closed case. In retrospect, that was clearly a mistake.
We shouldn't have taken their word for it, and we've updated our policies and how we're going to operate the company to make sure that we don't make that mistake again.
NELSON: Did anybody notify the FTC?
ZUCKERBERG: No, senator, for the same reason — that we'd considered it a closed — a closed case.
THUNE: And — and, Mr. Zuckerberg, would you that — do that differently today, presumably? That — in response to Senator Nelson's question ...
THUNE: ... having to do it over?
This may be your first appearance before Congress, but it's not the first time that Facebook has faced tough questions about its privacy policies. Wired Magazine recently noted that you have a 14-year history of apologizing for ill-advised decisions regarding user privacy, not unlike the one that you made just now in your opening statement.
After more than a decade of promises to do better, how is today's apology different? And why should we trust Facebook to make the necessary changes to ensure user privacy and give people a clearer picture of your privacy policies?
ZUCKERBERG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. So we have made a lot of mistakes in running the company. I think it's — it's pretty much impossible, I — I believe, to start a company in your dorm room and then grow it to be at the scale that we're at now without making some mistakes.
And, because our service is about helping people connect and information, those mistakes have been different in — in how they — we try not to make the same mistake multiple times. But in general, a lot of the mistakes are around how people connect to each other, just because of the nature of the service.
ZUCKERBERG: Overall, I would say that we're going through a broader philosophical shift in how we approach our responsibility as a company. For the first 10 or 12 years of the company, I viewed our responsibility as primarily building tools that, if we could put those tools in people's hands, then that would empower people to do good things.
What I think we've learned now across a number of issues — not just data privacy, but also fake news and foreign interference in elections — is that we need to take a more proactive role and a broader view of our responsibility.
It's not enough to just build tools. We need to make sure that they're used for good. And that means that we need to now take a more active view in policing the ecosystem and in watching and kind of looking out and making sure that all of the members in our community are using these tools in a way that's going to be good and healthy.
So, at the end of the day, this is going to be something where people will measure us by our results on this. It's not that I expect anything that I say here today — to necessarily change people's view.
But I'm committed to getting this right. And I believe that, over the coming years, once we fully work all these solutions through, people will see real differences.
THUNE: Well — and I'm glad that you all have gotten that message.
As we discussed in my office yesterday, the line between legitimate political discourse and hate speech can sometimes be hard to identify, and especially when you're relying on artificial intelligence and other technologies for the initial discovery.
Can you discuss what steps that Facebook currently takes when making these evaluations, the challenges that you face and any examples of where you may draw the line between what is and what is not hate speech?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, Mr. Chairman. I'll speak to hate speech, and then I'll talk about enforcing our content policies more broadly. So — actually, maybe, if — if you're okay with it, I'll go in the other order.
So, from the beginning of the company in 2004 — I started in my dorm room; it was me and my roommate. We didn't have A.I. technology that could look at the content that people were sharing. So — so we basically had to enforce our content policies reactively.
People could share what they wanted, and then, if someone in the community found it to be offensive or against our policies, they'd flag it for us, and we'd look at it reactively. Now, increasingly, we're developing A.I. tools that can identify certain classes of bad activity proactively and flag it for our team at Facebook.
By the end of this year, by the way, we're going to have more than 20,000 people working on security and content review, working across all these things. So, when content gets flagged to us, we have those — those people look at it. And, if it violates our policies, then we take it down.
Some problems lend themselves more easily to A.I. solutions than others. So hate speech is one of the hardest, because determining if something is hate speech is very linguistically nuanced, right?
It's — you need to understand, you know, what is a slur and what — whether something is hateful not just in English, but the majority of people on Facebook use it in languages that are different across the world.
Contrast that, for example, with an area like finding terrorist propaganda, which we've actually been very successful at deploying A.I. tools on already.
Today, as we sit here, 99 percent of the ISIS and Al Qaida content that we take down on Facebook, our A.I. systems flag before any human sees it. So that's a success in terms of rolling out A.I. tools that can proactively police and enforce safety across the community.
Hate speech — I am optimistic that, over a 5 to 10-year period, we will have A.I. tools that can get into some of the nuances — the linguistic nuances of different types of content to be more accurate in flagging things for our systems.
But, today, we're just not there on that. So a lot of this is still reactive. People flag it to us. We have people look at it. We have policies to try to make it as not subjective as possible. But, until we get it more automated, there is a higher error rate than I'm happy with.
GRASSLEY: Senator Feinstein?
FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Zuckerberg, what is Facebook doing to prevent foreign actors from interfering in U.S. elections?
ZUCKERBERG: Thank you, senator.
This is one of my top priorities in 2018 — is to get this right. I — one of my greatest regrets in running the company is that we were slow in identifying the Russian information operations in 2016. We expected them to do a number of more traditional cyber attacks, which we did identify and notify the campaigns that they were trying to hack into them.
But we were slow at identifying the type of — of new information operations.
FEINSTEIN: When did you identify new operations?
ZUCKERBERG: It was right around the time of the 2016 election itself. So, since then, we — 2018 is — is an incredibly important year for elections. Not just in — with the U.S. midterms, but, around the world, there are important elections — in India, in Brazil, in Mexico, in Pakistan and in Hungary, that — we want to make sure that we do everything we can to protect the integrity of those elections.
Now, I have more confidence that we're going to get this right, because, since the 2016 election, there have been several important elections around the world where we've had a better record. There was the French presidential election. There was the German election. There was the U.S. Senate Alabama special election last year.
FEINSTEIN: Explain what is better about the record.
ZUCKERBERG: So we've deployed new A.I. tools that do a better job of identifying fake accounts that may be trying to interfere in elections or spread misinformation. And, between those three elections, we were able to proactively remove tens of thousands of accounts that — before they — they could contribute significant harm.
And the nature of these attacks, though, is that, you know, there are people in Russia whose job it is — is to try to exploit our systems and other Internet systems, and other systems, as well.
So this is an arms race, right? I mean, they're going to keep on getting better at this, and we need to invest in keeping on getting better at this, too, which is why one of things I mentioned before is we're going to have more than 20,000 people, by the end of this year, working on security and content review across the company.
FEINSTEIN: Speak for a moment about automated bots that spread disinformation. What are you doing to punish those who exploit your platform in that regard?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, you're not allowed to have a fake account on Facebook. Your content has to be authentic. So we build technical tools to try to identify when people are creating fake accounts — especially large networks of fake accounts, like the Russians have — in order to remove all of that content.
After the 2016 election, our top priority was protecting the integrity of other elections around the world. But, at the same time, we had a parallel effort to trace back to Russia the IRA activity — the Internet Research Agency activity that was — the part of the Russian government that — that did this activity in — in 2016.
And, just last week, we were able to determine that a number of Russian media organizations that were sanctioned by the Russian regulator were operated and controlled by this Internet Research Agency.
So we took the step last week — that was a pretty big step for us — of taking down sanctioned news organizations in Russia as part of an operation to remove 270 fake accounts and pages, part of their broader network in Russia, that was — that was actually not targeting international interference as much as — sorry, let me correct that.
It was primarily targeting — spreading misinformation in Russia itself, as well as certain Russian-speaking neighboring countries.
FEINSTEIN: How many accounts of this type have you taken down?
ZUCKERBERG: Across — in the IRA specifically, the ones that we've pegged back to the IRA, we can identify the 470 in the American elections in the 270 that we specifically went after in Russia last week.
There were many others that our systems catch, which are more difficult to attribute specifically to Russian intelligence, but the number would be in the tens of thousands of fake accounts that we remove. And I'm happy to have my team follow up with you on more information, if that would be helpful.
FEINSTEIN: Would you, please? I think this is very important.
If you knew in 2015 that Cambridge Analytica was using the information of Professor Kogan's, why didn't Facebook ban Cambridge in 2015? Why'd you wait another ...
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that's a — a great question.
Cambridge Analytica wasn't using our services in 2015, as far as we can tell. So this is — this is clearly one of the questions that I asked our team, as soon as I learned about this — is why — why did we wait until we found out about the reports last month to — to ban them.
It's because, as of the time that we learned about their activity in 2015, they weren't an advertiser. They weren't running pages. So we actually had nothing to ban.
GRASSLEY: No, thank you, Senator Feinstein.
SEN. ORRIN G. HATCH (R-UTAH): Well, in my opinion, this is the most — this is the most intense public scrutiny I've seen for a tech-related hearing since the Microsoft hearing that — that I chaired back in the late 1990s.
The recent stories about Cambridge Analytica and data mining on social media have raised serious concerns about consumer privacy, and, naturally, I know you understand that.
At the same time, these stories touch on the very foundation of the Internet economy and the way the websites that drive our Internet economy make money. Some have professed themselves shocked — shocked that companies like Facebook and Google share user data with advertisers.
Did any of these individuals ever stop to ask themselves why Facebook and Google didn't — don't change — don't charge for access? Nothing in life is free. Everything involves trade-offs.
If you want something without having to pay money for it, you're going to have to pay for it in some other way, it seems to me. And that's where — what we're seeing here.
And these great websites that don't charge for access — they extract value in some other way. And there's nothing wrong with that, as long as they're upfront about what they're doing.
To my mind, the issue here is transparency. It's consumer choice. Do users understand what they're agreeing to — to when they access a website or agree to terms of service? Are websites upfront about how they extract value from users, or do they hide the ball?
Do consumers have the information they need to make an informed choice regarding whether or not to visit a particular website? To my — to my mind, these are questions that we should ask or be focusing on.
Now, Mr. Zuckerberg, I remember well your first visit to Capitol Hill, back in 2010. You spoke to the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force, which I chair. You said back then that Facebook would always be free.
Is that still your objective?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. There will always be a version of Facebook that is free. It is our mission to try to help connect everyone around the world and to bring the world closer together.
In order to do that, we believe that we need to offer a service that everyone can afford, and we're committed to doing that.
HATCH: Well, if so, how do you sustain a business model in which users don't pay for your service?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we run ads.
HATCH: I see. That's great. Whenever a controversy like this arises, there's always the danger that Congress's response will be to step and overregulate. Now, that's been the experience that I've had, in my 42 years here.
In your view, what sorts of legislative changes would help to solve the problems the Cambridge Analytica story has revealed? And what sorts of legislative changes would not help to solve this issue?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that there are a few categories of legislation that — that make sense to consider.
Around privacy specifically, there are a few principles that I think it would be useful to — to discuss and potentially codified into law.
One is around having a simple and practical set of — of ways that you explain what you are doing with data. And we talked a little bit earlier around the complexity of laying out these long privacy policies. It's hard to say that people fully understand something when it's only written out in a long legal document. This needs — the stuff needs to be implemented in a way where people can actually understand it, where consumers can — can understand it, but that can also capture all the nuances of how these services work in a way that doesn't — that's not overly restrictive on — on providing the services. That's one.
The second is around giving people complete control. This is the most important principle for Facebook: Every piece of content that you share on Facebook, you own and you have complete control over who sees it and — and how you share it, and you can remove it at any time.
That's why every day, about 100 billion times a day, people come to one of our services and either post a photo or send a message to someone, because they know that they have that control and that who they say it's going to go to is going to be who sees the content.
And I think that that control is something that's important that I think should apply to — to every service.
And the third point is — is just around enabling innovation. Because some of the abuse cases that — that are very sensitive, like face recognition, for example — and I feel there's a balance that's extremely important to strike here, where you obtain special consent for sensitive features like face recognition, but don't — but we still need to make it so that American companies can innovate in those areas, or else we're going to fall behind Chinese competitors and others around the world who have different regimes for — for different new features like that.
GRASSLEY: Senator Cantwell?
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D-WASH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Do you know who Palantir is?
CANTWELL: Some people refer to them as a Stanford Analytica. Do you agree?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I have not heard that.
Do you think Palantir taught Cambridge Analytica, as press reports are saying, how to do these tactics?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I do not know.
CANTWELL: Do you think that Palantir has ever scraped data from Facebook?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not aware of that.
CANTWELL: Do you think that during the 2016 campaign, as Cambridge Analytica was providing support to the Trump campaign under Project Alamo, were there any Facebook people involved in that sharing of technique and information?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we provided support to the Trump campaign similar to what we provide to any advertiser or campaign who asks for it.
CANTWELL: So that was a yes. Was that a yes?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, can you repeat the specific question? I just want to make sure I get specifically what you're asking.
CANTWELL: During the 2016 campaign, Cambridge Analytica worked with the Trump campaign to refine tactics. And were Facebook employees involved in that?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don't know that our employees were involved with Cambridge Analytica. Although I know that we did help out the Trump campaign overall in sales support in the same way that we do with other companies.
CANTWELL: So they may have been involved and all working together during that time period? Maybe that's something your investigation will find out.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, my — I can certainly have my team get back to you on any specifics there that I don't know, sitting here today.
CANTWELL: Have you heard of Total Information Awareness? Do you know what I'm talking about?
ZUCKERBERG: No, I do not.
CANTWELL: Okay. Total Information Awareness was, 2003, John Ashcroft and others trying to do similar things to what I think is behind all of this — geopolitical forces trying to get data and information to influence a process.
So, when I look at Palantir and what they're doing; and I look at WhatsApp, which is another acquisition; and I look at where you are, from the 2011 consent decree, and where you are today; I am thinking, “Is this guy outfoxing the foxes? Or is he going along with what is a major trend in an information age, to try to harvest information for political forces?”
And so my question to you is, do you see that those applications, that those companies — Palantir and even WhatsApp — are going to fall into the same situation that you've just fallen into, over the last several years?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not — I'm not sure, specifically. Overall, I — I do think that these issues around information access are challenging.
To the specifics about those apps, I'm not really that familiar with what Palantir does. WhatsApp collects very little information and, I — I think, is less likely to have the kind of issues because of the way that the service is architected. But, certainly, I think that these are broad issues across the tech industry.
CANTWELL: Well, I guess, given the track record — where Facebook is and why you're here today, I guess people would say that they didn't act boldly enough.
And the fact that people like John Bolton, basically, was an investor — in a New York Times article earlier — I guess it was actually last month — that the Bolton PAC was obsessed with how America was becoming limp-wristed and spineless, and it wanted research and messaging for national security issues.
So the fact that, you know, there are a lot of people who are interested in this larger effort — and what I think my constituents want to know is, was this discussed at your board meetings? And what are the applications and interests that are being discussed without putting real teeth into this?
We don't want to come back to this situation again. I believe you have all the talent. My question is whether you have all the will to help us solve this problem.
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, Senator.
So data privacy and foreign interference in elections are certainly topics that we have discussed at the board meeting. These are some of the biggest issues that the company has faced, and we feel a huge responsibility to get these right.
CANTWELL: Do you believe European regulations should be applied here in the U.S.?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think everyone in the world deserves good privacy protection. And, regardless of whether we implement the exact same regulation, I would guess that it would be somewhat different, because we have somewhat different sensibilities in the U.S. as to other countries.
We're committed to rolling out the controls and the affirmative consent and the special controls around sensitive types of technology, like face recognition, that are required in GDPR. We're doing that around the world.
So I think it's certainly worth discussing whether we should have something similar in the U.S. But what I would like to say today is that we're going to go forward and implement that, regardless of what the regulatory outcome is.
GRASSLEY: Senator Wicker?
Senator Thune will chair next.
SEN. ROGER WICKER (R-MISS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And, Mr. Zuckerberg, thank you for being with us.
My question is going to be, sort of, a follow-up on what Senator Hatch was talking about. And let me agree with basically his — his advice, that we don't want to overregulate (inaudible) to the point where we're stifling innovation and investment.
I understand with regard to suggested rules or suggested legislation, there are at least two schools of thought out there.
One would be the ISPs, the Internet service providers, who are advocating for privacy protections for consumers that apply to all online entities equally across the entire Internet ecosystem.
Now, Facebook is an edge provider on the other hand. It is my understanding that many edge providers, such as Facebook, may not support that effort, because edge providers have different business models than the ISPs and should not be considered like services.
So, do you think we need consistent privacy protections for consumers across the entire Internet ecosystem that are based on the type of consumer information being collected, used or shared, regardless of the entity doing the collecting, reusing or sharing?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, this is an important question.
I would differentiate between ISPs, which I consider to be the pipes of the Internet, and the platforms like Facebook or Google or Twitter, YouTube that are the apps or platforms on top of that.
I think in general, the expectations that people have of the pipes are somewhat different from the platforms. So there might be areas where there needs to be more regulation in one and less in the other, but I think that there are going to be other places where there needs to be more regulation of the other type.
Specifically, though, on the pipes, one of the important issues that — that I think we face and have debated is ...
WICKER: When you — when you say “pipes,” you mean ...
So I know net neutrality has been a — a hotly debated topic, and one of the reasons why I have been out there saying that I think that should be the case is because, you know, I look at my own story of when I was getting started building Facebook at Harvard, you know, I only had one option for an ISP to use. And if I had to pay extra in order to make it so that my app could potentially be seen or used by other people, then — then we probably wouldn't be here today.
WICKER: Okay, well — but we're talking about privacy concerns. And let me just say, we'll — we'll have to follow up on this. But I think you and I agree, this is going to be one of the major items of debate if we have to go forward and — and do this from a governmental standpoint.
Let me just move on to another couple of items.
Is it true that — as was recently publicized, that Facebook collects the call and text histories of its users that use Android phones?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we have an app called Messenger for sending messages to your Facebook friends. And that app offers people an option to sync their — their text messages into the messenging app, and to make it so that — so basically so you can have one app where it has both your texts and — and your Facebook messages in one place.
We also allow people the option of ...
WICKER: You can opt in or out of that?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. It is opt-in.
WICKER: It is easy to opt out?
ZUCKERBERG: It is opt-in. You — you have to affirmatively say that you want to sync that information before we get access to it.
WICKER: Unless you — unless you opt in, you don't collect that call and text history?
ZUCKERBERG: That is correct.
WICKER: And is that true for — is this practice done at all with minors, or do you make an exception there for persons aged 13 to 17?
ZUCKERBERG: I do not know. We can follow up with that.
WICKER: Okay, do that — let's do that.
One other thing: There have been reports that Facebook can track a user's Internet browsing activity, even after that user has logged off of the Facebook platform. Can you confirm whether or not this is true?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator — I — I want to make sure I get this accurate, so it would probably be better to have my team follow up afterwards.
We do that for a number of reasons, including security, and including measuring ads to make sure that the ad experiences are the most effective, which, of course, people can opt out of. But I want to make sure that I'm precise in my answer, so let me ...
WICKER: When — well, when you get ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... follow up with you on that.
WICKER: ... when you get back to me, sir, would you also let us know how Facebook's — discloses to its users that engaging in this type of tracking gives us that result?
WICKER: And thank you very much.
GRASSLEY: Thank you, Senator Wicker.
SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY (D-VT): Thank you.
Mr. Zuckerberg, I — I assume Facebook's been served with subpoenas from the — Special Counsel Mueller's office. Is that correct?
LEAHY: Have you or anyone at Facebook been interviewed by the Special Counsel's Office?
LEAHY: Have you been interviewed ...
ZUCKERBERG: I have not. I — I have not.
ZUCKERBERG: I — I believe so. And I want to be careful here, because that — our work with the special counsel is confidential, and I want to make sure that, in an open session, I'm not revealing something that's confidential.
LEAHY: I understand. I just want to make clear that you have been contacted, you have had subpoenas.
ZUCKERBERG: Actually, let me clarify that. I actually am not aware of — of a subpoena. I believe that there may be, but I know we're working with them.
Six months ago, your general counsel promised us that you were taking steps to prevent Facebook preserving what I would call an unwitting co-conspirator in Russian interference.
But these — these unverified, divisive pages are on Facebook today. They look a lot like the anonymous groups that Russian agents used to spread propaganda during the 2016 election.
Are you able to confirm whether they're Russian-created groups? Yes or no?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, are you asking about those specifically?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, last week, we actually announced a major change to our ads and pages policies: that we will be identifying the identity of every single advertiser ...
LEAHY: I'm asking about specific ones. Do you know whether they are?
ZUCKERBERG: I am not familiar with those pieces of content specifically.
LEAHY: But, if you decided this policy a week ago, you'd be able to verify them?
ZUCKERBERG: We are working on that now. What we're doing is we're going to verify the identity of any advertiser who's running a political or issue-related ad — this is basically what the Honest Ads Act is proposing, and we're following that.
And we're also going to do that for pages. So ...
LEAHY: But you can't answer on these?
ZUCKERBERG: I — I'm not familiar with those specific cases.
LEAHY: Well, will you — will you find out the answer and get back to me?
ZUCKERBERG: I'll have my team get back to you.
I do think it's worth adding, though, that we're going to do the same verification of identity and location of admins who are running large pages.
So, that way, even if they aren't going to be buying ads in our system, that will make it significantly harder for Russian interference efforts or other inauthentic efforts ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... to try to spread misinformation through the network.
LEAHY: ... it's a fight that's been going on for some time, so I might say it's about time.
You know, six months ago, I asked your general counsel about Facebook's role as a breeding ground for hate speech against Rohingya refugees. Recently, U.N. investigators blamed Facebook for playing a role in inciting possible genocide in Myanmar. And there has been genocide there.
You say you use A.I. to find this. This is the type of content I'm referring to. It calls for the death of a Muslim journalist. Now, that threat went straight through your detection systems, it spread very quickly, and then it took attempt after attempt after attempt, and the involvement of civil society groups, to get you to remove it.
Why couldn't it be removed within 24 hours?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, what's happening in Myanmar is a terrible tragedy, and we need to do more ...
LEAHY: We all agree with that.
LEAHY: But U.N. investigators have blamed you — blamed Facebook for playing a role in the genocide. We all agree it's terrible. How can you dedicate, and will you dedicate, resources to make sure such hate speech is taken down within 24 hours?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. We're working on this. And there are three specific things that we're doing.
One is we're hiring dozens of more Burmese-language content reviewers, because hate speech is very language-specific. It's hard to do it without people who speak the local language, and we need to ramp up our effort there dramatically.
Second is we're working with civil society in Myanmar to identify specific hate figures so we can take down their accounts, rather than specific pieces of content.
And third is we're standing up a product team to do specific product changes in Myanmar and other countries that may have similar issues in the future to prevent this from happening.
LEAHY: Senator Cruz and I sent a letter to Apple, asking what they're going to do about Chinese censorship. My question, I'll place ...
THUNE: That'd be great. Thank you, Senator Leahy.
LEAHY: ... I'll place for the record — I want to know what you will do about Chinese censorship, when they come to you.
THUNE: Senator Graham's up next.
SEN. LINDSEY O. GRAHAM (R-S.C.): Thank you.
Are you familiar with Andrew Bosworth?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator, I am.
GRAHAM: He said, “So we connect more people. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people, more often, is de facto good.” Do you agree with that?
ZUCKERBERG: No, senator, I do not. And, as context, Boz wrote that — Boz is what we call him internally — he wrote that as an internal note. We have a lot of discussion internally. I disagreed with it at the time that he wrote it. If you looked at the comments on the internal discussion ...
GRAHAM: Would you say ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... the vast majority of people internally did, too.
GRAHAM: ... that you did a poor job, as a CEO, communicating your displeasure with such thoughts? Because, if he had understood where you — where you were at, he would have never said it to begin with.
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, we try to run our company in a way where people can express different opinions internally.
GRAHAM: Well, this is an opinion that really disturbs me. And, if somebody worked for me that said this, I'd fire them.
Who's your biggest competitor?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we have a lot of competitors.
GRAHAM: Who's your biggest?
ZUCKERBERG: I think the categories of — did you want just one? I'm not sure I can give one, but can I give a bunch?
ZUCKERBERG: So there are three categories that I would focus on. One are the other tech platforms — so Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft — we overlap with them in different ways.
GRAHAM: Do they do — do they provide the same service you provide?
ZUCKERBERG: In different ways — different parts of it, yes.
GRAHAM: Let me put it this way. If I buy a Ford, and it doesn't work well, and I don't like it, I can buy a Chevy. If I'm upset with Facebook, what's the equivalent product that I can go sign up for?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, there — the second category that I was going to talk about are ...
GRAHAM: I'm not talking about categories. I'm talking about, is there real competition you face? Because car companies face a lot of competition. If they make a defective car, it gets out in the world, people stop buying that car; they buy another one.
Is there an alternative to Facebook in the private sector?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, Senator. The average American uses eight different apps to communicate with their friends and stay in touch with people ...
GRAHAM: Okay. Which is ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... ranging from texting apps, to email, to ...
GRAHAM: ... is the same service you provide?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, we provide a number of different services.
GRAHAM: Is Twitter the same as what you do?
ZUCKERBERG: It overlaps with a portion of what we do.
GRAHAM: You don't think you have a monopoly?
ZUCKERBERG: It certainly doesn't feel like that to me.
So it doesn't. So, Instagram — you bought Instagram. Why did you buy Instagram?
ZUCKERBERG: Because they were very talented app developers who were making good use of our platform and understood our values.
GRAHAM: It is a good business decision. My point is that one way to regulate a company is through competition, through government regulation. Here's the question that all of us got to answer: What do we tell our constituents, given what's happened here, why we should let you self-regulate?
What would you tell people in South Carolina, that given all of the things we've just discovered here, it's a good idea for us to rely upon you to regulate your own business practices?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, my position is not that there should be no regulation.
ZUCKERBERG: I think the Internet is increasingly ...
GRAHAM: You embrace regulation?
ZUCKERBERG: I think the real question, as the Internet becomes more important in people's lives, is what is the right regulation, not whether there should be or not.
GRAHAM: But — but you, as a company, welcome regulation?
ZUCKERBERG: I think, if it's the right regulation, then yes.
GRAHAM: You think the Europeans had it right?
ZUCKERBERG: I think that they get things right.
GRAHAM: Have you ever submitted ...
That's true. So would you work with us in terms of what regulations you think are necessary in your industry?
GRAHAM: Okay. Would you submit to us some proposed regulations?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. And I'll have my team follow up with you so, that way, we can have this discussion across the different categories where I think that this discussion needs to happen.
GRAHAM: Look forward to it.
When you sign up for Facebook, you sign up for a terms of service. Are you familiar with that?
GRAHAM: Okay. It says, “The terms govern your use of Facebook and the products, features, apps, services, technologies, software we offer — Facebook's products or products — except where we expressly state that separate terms, and not these, apply.”
I'm a lawyer. I have no idea what that means. But, when you look at terms of service, this is what you get. Do you think the average consumer understands what they're signing up for?
ZUCKERBERG: I don't think that the average person likely reads that whole document.
ZUCKERBERG: But I think that there are different ways that we can communicate that, and have a responsibility to do so.
GRAHAM: Do you — do you agree with me that you better come up with different ways, because this ain't working?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, I think, in certain areas, that is true. And I think, in other areas, like the core part of what we do — right, if you — if you think about — just, at the most basic level, people come to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, about a hundred billion times a day to share a piece of content or a message with a specific set of people.
And I think that that basic functionality people understand, because we have the controls in line every time, and given the volume of — of — of the activity, and the value that people tell us that they're getting from that, I think that that control in line does seem to be working fairly well.
Now we can always do better, and there are other — the services are complex, and there is more to it than just — you know, you go and you post a photo, so I — I — I agree that — that in many places we could do better.
But I think for the quarter of the service, it actually is quite clear.
GRASSLEY: Thank you, Senator Graham.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MINN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Zuckerberg, I think we all agree that what happened here was bad. You acknowledged it was a breach of trust. And the way I explain it to my constituents is that if someone breaks into my apartment with the crowbar and they take my stuff, it's just like if the manager gave them the keys or if they didn't have any locks on the doors, it's still a breach; it's still a break in. And I believe we need to have laws and rules that are sophisticated as the — the brilliant products that you've developed here. And we just haven't done that yet.
And one of the areas that I've focused on is the election. And I appreciate the support that you and Facebook, and now Twitter, actually, have given to the Honest Ads Act bill that you mentioned, that I'm leading with Senator McCain and Senator Warner.
And I just want to be clear, as we work to pass this law so that we have the same rules in place to disclose political ads and issue ads as we do for TV and radio, as well as disclaimers, that you're going to take early action, as soon as June I heard, before this election so that people can view these ads, including issue ads. Is that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: That is correct, senator. And I just want to take a moment before I go into this in more detail to thank you for your leadership on this. This, I think, is an important area for the whole industry to move on.
The two specific things that we're doing are — one is around transparency, so now you're going to be able to go and click on any advertiser or any page on Facebook and see all of the ads that they're running. So that actually brings advertising online — on Facebook to an even higher standard than what you would have on TV or print media, because there's nowhere where you can see all of the TV ads that someone is running, for example. Whereas you will be able to see now on Facebook whether this campaign or third party is saying different messages to different types of people, and I think that that's a really important element of transparency.
But the other really important piece is around verifying every single advertiser who's going to be running political or issue ads.
KLOBUCHAR: I appreciate that. And Senator Warner and I have also called on Google and the other platforms to do the same. So memo to the rest of you, we have to get this done or we're going to have a patchwork of ads, and I hope that you'll be working with us to pass this bill. Is that right?
KLOBUCHAR: Okay, thank you.
Now on the subject of Cambridge Analytica, were these people, the 87 million people, users, concentrated in certain states? Are you able to figure out where they're from?
ZUCKERBERG: I do not have that information with me, but we can follow up with your — your office.
KLOBUCHAR: Okay, because as we know, that election was close, and it was only thousands of votes in certain states. You've also estimated that roughly 126 people — million people may have been shown content from a Facebook page associated with the Internet Research Agency.
Have you determined when — whether any of those people were the same Facebook users who's data was shared with Cambridge Analytica? Are you able to make that determination?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we're investigating that now. We believe that it is entirely possible that there will be a connection there.
KLOBUCHAR: Okay, that seems like a big deal as we look back at that last election. Former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wiley has said that the data that it improperly obtained — that Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained from Facebook users could be stored in Russia.
Do you agree that that's a possibility?
ZUCKERBERG: Sorry, are you — are you asking if Cambridge Analytica's data — data could be stored in Russia?
KLOBUCHAR: That's what he said this weekend on a Sunday show.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don't have any specific knowledge that would suggest that.
But one of the steps that we need to take now is go do a full audit of all of Cambridge Analytica's systems to understand what they're doing, whether they still have any data, to make sure that they remove all the data. If they don't, we're going to take legal action against them to do so.
That audit, we have temporarily ceded that in order to let the U.K. government complete their government investigation first, because, of course, a government investigation takes precedence against a company doing that. But we are committed to completing this full audit and getting to the bottom of what's going on here, so that way we can have more answers to this.
You earlier stated publicly and here that you would support some privacy rules so that everyone's playing by the same rules here. And you also said here that you should have notified customers earlier.
Would you support a rule that would require you to notify your users of a breach within 72 hours?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that makes sense to me. And I think we should have our team follow up with — with yours to — to discuss the details around that more.
I just think part of this was when people don't even know that their data's been breached, that's a huge problem. And I also think we get to solutions faster when we get that information out there.
Thank you. And we look forward to passing this bill — we'd love to pass it before the election — on the honest ads. And I'm looking forward to better disclosure this election.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Zuckerberg, nice to see you.
When I saw you not too long after I entered the Senate in 2011, I told you, when I sent my business cards down to be printed, they came back from the Senate print shop with the message that it was the first business card they'd ever printed a Facebook address on.
There are days when I've regretted that, but more days when we get lots of information that we need to get. There are days when I wonder if “Facebook friends” is a little misstated. It doesn't seem like I have those every single day.
But, you know, the — the platform you've created is really important. And my son Charlie, who's 13, is dedicated to Instagram. So he'd want to be sure I mentioned him while I was here with — with you.
I haven't printed that on my card yet, I — I will — will say that, but I think we have that account as well. Lots of ways to connect people.
And the — the information, obviously, is an important commodity and it's what makes your business work. I get that.
However, I wonder about some of the collection efforts. And maybe we can go through largely just even “yes” and “no” and then we'll get back to more expansive discussion of this.
But do you collect user data through cross-device tracking?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I believe we do link people's accounts between devices in order to make sure that their Facebook and Instagram and their other experiences can be synced between their devices.
BLUNT: And that would also include offline data, data that's tracking that's not necessarily linked to Facebook, but linked to one — some device they went through Facebook on, is that right?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I want to make sure we get this right. So I want to have my team follow up with you on that afterwards.
BLUNT: Well, now, that doesn't seem that complicated to me. Now, you — you understand this better than I do, but maybe — maybe you can explain to me why that's that — why that's complicated.
Do you track devices that an individual who uses Facebook has that is connected to the device that they use for their Facebook connection, but not necessarily connected to Facebook?
ZUCKERBERG: I'm not — I'm not sure of the answer to that question.
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. There — there may be some data that is necessary to provide the service that we do. But I don't — I don't have that on — sitting here today. So that's something that I would want to follow up on.
BLUNT: Now, the FTC, last year, flagged cross-device tracking as one of their concerns — generally, that people are tracking devices that the users of something like Facebook don't know they're being tracked.
How do you disclose your collected — collection methods? Is that all in this document that I would see and agree to before I entered into Facebook?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator. So there are — there are two ways that we do this. One is we try to be exhaustive in the legal documents, or on the terms of service and privacy policies. But, more importantly, we try to provide in-line controls so that — that are in plain English, that people can understand.
They can either go to settings, or we can show them at the top of the app, periodically, so that people understand all the controls and settings they have and can — can configure their experience the way that they want.
BLUNT: So do people — do people now give you permission to track specific devices in their contract? And, if they do, is that a relatively new addition to what you do?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm sorry. I don't have that.
BLUNT: Am I able to — am I able to opt out? Am I able to say, “It's okay for you to track what I'm saying on Facebook, but I don't want you to track what I'm texting to somebody else, off Facebook, on an Android phone."?
ZUCKERBERG: Okay. Yes, senator. In — in general, Facebook is not collecting data from other apps that you use. There may be some specific things about the device that you're using that Facebook needs to understand in order to offer the service.
But, if you're using Google or you're using some texting app, unless you specifically opt in that you want to share the texting app information, Facebook wouldn't see that.
BLUNT: Has it always been that way? Or is that a recent addition to how you deal with those other ways that I might communicate?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, my understanding is that that is how the mobile operating systems are architected.
BLUNT: The — so do you — you don't have bundled permissions for how I can agree to what devices I may use, that you may have contact with? Do you — do you bundle that permission? Or am I able to, one at a — individually say what I'm willing for you to — to watch, and what I don't want you to watch?
And I think we might have to take that for the record, based on everybody else's time.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Blunt.
SEN. RICHARD J. DURBIN (D-ILL): Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?
DURBIN: If you messaged anybody this week, would you share with us the names of the people you've messaged?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, no. I would probably not choose to do that publicly, here.
DURBIN: I think that may be what this is all about: your right to privacy, the limits of your right to privacy and how much you give away in modern America in the name of, quote, “connecting people around the world;” a question, basically, of what information Facebook's collecting, who they're sending it to and whether they ever asked me, in advance, my permission to do that. Is that a fair thing for the user of Facebook to expect?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator. I think everyone should have control over how their information is used. And as we've talked about in some of the other questions, I think of that is laid out in and some of the documents, but more importantly, you want your people control in the product itself.
So the most important way that this happens across our services is that every day, people come to our services to choose to share photos or send messages, and every single time they choose to share something, there — they have a control right there about who they want to share it with. But that level of control is extremely important.
DURBIN: They certainly know within the Facebook pages who their friends are, but they may not know as has happened — and you've conceded this point in the past, that sometimes that information is going way beyond there friends, and sometimes people have made money off of sharing that information, correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, you are referring I think to our developer platform, and it may be useful for me to give some background on how we set that up, if that's useful.
DURBIN: I have three minutes left, so maybe you can do that for the record, because I have couple other questions I would like to ask. You have recently announced something that is called Messenger Kids. Facebook created an app allowing kids between the ages of 6 and 12 to send video and text messages through Facebook as an extension of their parent's account. You have cartoonlike stickers, and other features designed to appeal to little kids — first-graders, kindergartners.
On January 30th, the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood and lots of other child development organizations warned Facebook. They pointed to a wealth of research demonstrating the excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to kids, and argued that young children simply are not ready to handle social media accounts at age 6. In addition, their concerns about data that is being gathered about these kids.
Now, there are certain limits of the law, we know. There's a Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. What guarantees can you give us the note data from Messenger Kids is or will be collected or shared with those of might violate that law?
ZUCKERBERG: All right, senator, so a number of things I think are — are important here. The background on Messenger Kids is, we heard feedback from thousands of parents that they want to be able to stay in touch with their kids and call them, use apps like FaceTime when they're working late or not around and want to communicate with their kids, but they want to have complete control over that. So I think we can all agree that if you — when your kid is 6 or 7, even if they have access to a phone, you want to control everyone who they can contact. And there was an app out there that did that. So we build this service to do that.
The app collects a minimum amount of information that is necessary to operate the service. So, for example, the messages that people send is something that we collect in order to operate the service, but in general, that data is not going to be shared with third parties, it is not connected to the broader Facebook ...
DURBIN: Excuse me, as a lawyer, I picked up on that word “in general,” the phrase “in general.” It seems to suggest that in some circumstances it will be shared with third parties.
ZUCKERBERG: No. It will not.
DURBIN: All right. Would you be open to the idea that someone having reached adult age, having grown up with Messenger Kids, should be allowed to delete the data that you collected?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. As a matter of fact, when you become 13, which is our legal limit — our limit — we don't allow people under the age of 13 to use Facebook — you don't automatically go from having a Messenger Kids account to a Facebook account. You have to start over and get a Facebook account.
So I think it's a good idea to consider making sure that all that information is deleted, and in general, people are going to be starting over when get their — their Facebook or other accounts.
DURBIN: I'll close, because I just have a few seconds. Illinois has a Biometric Information Privacy Act, or the state does, which is to regulate the commercial use of facial, voice, finger and iris scans and the like. We're now in a fulsome debate on that. And I'm afraid Facebook has come down to the position of trying to carve out exceptions to that. I hope you'll fill me in on how that is consistent with protecting privacy. Thank you.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Durbin.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TEX): Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg, for being here. I know in — up until 2014, a mantra or motto of Facebook was move fast and break things. Is that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: I don't know when we changed it, but the mantra is currently move fast with stable infrastructure, which is a much less sexy mantra.
CORNYN: Sounds much more boring. But my question is, during the time that it was Facebook's mantra or motto to move fast and break things, do you think some of the misjudgments, perhaps mistakes that you've admitted to here, were as a result of that culture or that attitude, particularly as it regards to personal privacy of the information of your subscribers?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I do think that we made mistakes because of that. But the broadest mistakes that we made here are not taking a broad enough view of our responsibility. And while that wasn't a matter — the “move fast” cultural value is more tactical around whether engineers can ship things and — and different ways that we operate.
But I think the big mistake that we've made looking back on this is viewing our responsibility as just building tools, rather than viewing our whole responsibility as making sure that those tools are used for good.
CORNYN: Well I — and I appreciate that. Because previously, or earlier in the past, we've been told that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the like are neutral platforms, and the people who own and run those for profit — and I'm not criticizing doing something for profit in this country.
But they bore no responsibility for the content. Do you agree now that Facebook and the other social media platforms are not neutral platforms, but bear some responsibility for the content?
ZUCKERBERG: I agree that we're responsible for the content, but I think that there's — one of the big societal questions that I think we're going to need to answer is the current framework that we have is based on this reactive model, that assumed that there weren't A.I. tools that could proactively tell, you know, whether something was terrorist content or something bad, so it naturally relied on requiring people to flag for a company, and then the company needing to take reasonable action.
In the future, we're going to have tools that are going to be able to identify more types of bad content. And I think that there is — there are moral and legal obligation questions that I think we'll have to wrestle with as a society about when we want to require companies to take action proactively on certain of those things, and when that gets in the way of ...
CORNYN: I appreciate that, I have two minutes left ...
CORNYN: ... to ask you questions.
So you — you — interestingly, the terms of the — what do you call it, the terms of service is a legal document which discloses to your subscribers how their information is going to be used, how Facebook is going to operate.
CORNYN: And — but you concede that — you doubt everybody reads or understands that legalese, those terms of service. So are — is that to suggest that the consent that people give subject to that terms of service is not informed consent? In other words, they may not read it, and even if they read it, they may not understand it?
ZUCKERBERG: I just think we have a broader responsibility than what the law requires. So I — what you ...
CORNYN: No, I'm talking — I'm talking about — I appreciate that. What I'm asking about, in terms of what your subscribers understand, in terms of how their data is going to be used — but let me go to the terms of service.
Under paragraph number two, you say, “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook.” That's what you've told us here today, a number of times.
So, if I chose to terminate my Facebook account, can I bar Facebook or any third parties from using the data that I had previously supplied, for any purpose whatsoever?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator. If you delete your account, we should get rid of all of your information.
CORNYN: You should? Or do you?
ZUCKERBERG: We do. We do.
CORNYN: How about third parties that you have contracted with to use some of that underlying information, perhaps to target advertising for themselves? You can't — do you — do you call back that information, as well? Or does that remain in their custody?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, this is actually a very important question, and I'm glad you brought this up, because there's a very common misperception about Facebook — that we sell data to advertisers. And we do not sell data to advertisers. We don't sell data to anyone.
CORNYN: Well, you clearly rent it.
ZUCKERBERG: What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach, and then we do the placement. So, if an advertiser comes to us and says, “All right, I am a ski shop and I want to sell skis to women,” then we might have some sense, because people shared skiing-related content, or said they were interested in that, they shared whether they're a woman, and then we can show the ads to the right people without that data ever changing hands and going to the advertiser.
That's a very fundamental part of how our model works and something that is often misunderstood. So I'm — I appreciate that you brought that up.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Cornyn.
We had indicated earlier on that we would take a couple of breaks, give our witness an opportunity. And I think we've been going, now, for just under two hours. So I think what we'll do is ...
ZUCKERBERG: You can do a few more.
THUNE: You — you're — you want to keep going?
ZUCKERBERG: Maybe — maybe 15 minutes. Does that work?
THUNE: Okay. All right, we'll keep going.
Senator Blumenthal is up next. And we will commence.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CONN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for being here today, Mr. Zuckerberg.
You have told us today — and you've told the world — that Facebook was deceived by Aleksandr Kogan when he sold user information to Cambridge Analytica, correct?
BLUMENTHAL: I want to show you the terms of service that Aleksandr Kogan provided to Facebook and note for you that, in fact, Facebook was on notice that he could sell that user information.
Have you seen these terms of service before?
BLUMENTHAL: Who in Facebook was responsible for seeing those terms of service that put you on notice that that information could be sold?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, our app review team would be responsible for that. Had ...
BLUMENTHAL: Has anyone been fired on that app review team?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, not because of this.
BLUMENTHAL: Doesn't that term of service conflict with the FTC order that Facebook was under at that very time that this term of service was, in fact, provided to Facebook. And you'll note that the Face — the FTC order specifically requires Facebook to protect privacy. Isn't there a conflict there?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, it certainly appears that we should have been aware that this app developer submitted a term that was in conflict with the rules of the platform.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, what happened here was, in effect, willful blindness. It was heedless and reckless, which, in fact, amounted to a violation of the FTC consent decree. Would you agree?
ZUCKERBERG: No, senator. My understanding is that — is not that this was a violation of the consent decree.
But as I've said a number of times today, I think we need to take a broader view of our responsibility around privacy than just what is mandated in the current law.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, here is my reservation, Mr. Zuckerberg. And I apologize for interrupting you, but my time is limited.
We've seen the apology tours before. You have refused to acknowledge even an ethical obligation to have reported this violation of the FTC consent decree. And we have letters — we've had contacts with Facebook employees. And I am going to submit a letter for the record from Sandy Parakilas, with your permission, that indicates not only a lack of resources, but lack of attention to privacy.
And so, my reservation about your testimony today is that I don't see how you can change your business model unless there are specific rules of the road.
Your business model is to monetize user information to maximize profit over privacy. And unless there are specific rules and requirements enforced by an outside agency, I have no assurance that these kinds of vague commitments are going to produce action.
So I want to ask you a couple of very specific questions. And they are based on legislation that I've offered, the MY DATA Act; legislation that Senator Markey is introducing today, the CONSENT Act, which I'm joining.
Don't you agree that companies ought to be required to provide users with clear, plain information about how their data will be used, and specific ability to consent to the use of that information?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I do generally agree with what you're saying. And I laid that out earlier when I talked about what ...
BLUMENTHAL: Would you agree to an opt-in as opposed to an opt-out?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that — that certainly makes sense to discuss. And I think the details around this matter a lot.
BLUMENTHAL: Would you agree that users should be able to access all of their information?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. Of course.
BLUMENTHAL: All of the information that you collect as a result of purchases from data brokers, as well as tracking them?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we have already a “download your information” tool that allows people to see and to take out all of the information that Facebook — that they've put into Facebook or that Facebook knows about them. So, yes, I agree with that. We already have that.
BLUMENTHAL: I have a number of other specific requests that you agree to support as part of legislation. I think legislation is necessary. The rules of the road have to be the result of congressional action.
We have — Facebook has participated recently in the fight against scourge — the scourge of sex trafficking. And a bill that we've just passed — it will be signed into law tomorrow — SESTA, the Stop Exploiting Sex Trafficking Act — was the result of our cooperation. I hope that we can cooperate on this kind of measure as well.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I look forward to having my team work with you on this.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Blumenthal.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TEX): Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Zuckerberg, welcome. Thank you for being here.
Mr. Zuckerberg, does Facebook consider itself a neutral public forum?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we consider ourselves to be a platform for all ideas.
CRUZ: Let me ask the question again. Does Facebook consider itself to be a neutral public forum, and representatives of your company are giving conflicting answers on this? Are you a ...
CRUZ: ... First Amendment speaker expressing your views, or are you a neutral public forum allowing everyone to speak?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, here's how we think about this: I don't believe that — there are certain content that clearly we do not allow, right? Hate speech, terrorist content, nudity, anything that makes people feel unsafe in the community. From that perspective, that's why we generally try to refer to what we do as platform for all ideas ...
CRUZ: Let me try this, because the time is constrained. It's just a simple question. The predicate for Section 230 immunity under the CDA is that you're a neutral public forum. Do you consider yourself a neutral public forum, or are you engaged in political speech, which is your right under the First Amendment.
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, our goal is certainly not to engage in political speech. I am not that familiar with the specific legal language of the — the law that you — that you speak to. So I would need to follow up with you on that. I'm just trying to lay out how broadly I think about this.
CRUZ: Mr. Zuckerberg, I will say there are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship. There have been numerous instances with Facebook in May of 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposely and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news, including stories about CPAC, including stories about Mitt Romney, including stories about the Lois Lerner IRS scandal, including stories about Glenn Beck.
In addition to that, Facebook has initially shut down the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day page, has blocked a post of a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages, and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk's page, with 1.2 million Facebook followers, after determining their content and brand were, quote, “unsafe to the community.”
To a great many Americans that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias. Do you agree with that assessment?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, let me say a few things about this. First, I understand where that concern is coming from, because Facebook in the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place, and I — this is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company, is making sure that we do not have any bias in the work that we do, and I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about. Now ...
CRUZ: Let me — let me ask this question: Are you aware of any ad or page that has been taken down from Planned Parenthood?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not. But let me just ...
CRUZ: How about moveon.org?
CRUZ: How about moveon.org?
ZUCKERBERG: I'm not specifically aware of those ...
CRUZ: How about any Democratic candidate for office?
ZUCKERBERG: I'm not specifically aware. I mean, I'm not sure.
CRUZ: In your testimony, you say that you have 15,000 to 20,000 people working on security and content review. Do you know the political orientation of those 15,000 to 20,000 people engaging engaged in content review?
ZUCKERBERG: No, senator. We do not generally ask people about their political orientation when they're joining the company.
CRUZ: So as CEO, have you ever made hiring or firing decisions based on political positions or what candidates they supported?
CRUZ: Why was Palmer Luckey fired?
ZUCKERBERG: That is a specific personnel matter that seems like it would be inappropriate to speak to here.
CRUZ: You just made a specific representation, that you didn't make decisions based on political views. Is that accurate?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, I can — I can commit that it was not because of a political view.
CRUZ: Do you know, of those 15 to 20,000 people engaged in content review, how many, if any, have ever supported, financially, a Republican candidate for office?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I do not know that.
CRUZ: Your testimony says, “It is not enough that we just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive.” It says, “We have to make sure people aren't using their voice to hurt people or spread misinformation. We have a responsibility, not just to build tools, to make sure those tools are used for good.”
Mr. Zuckerberg, do you feel it's your responsibility to assess users, whether they are good and positive connections or ones that those 15 to 20,000 people deem unacceptable or deplorable?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, you're asking about me personally?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that there are a number of things that we would all agree are clearly bad. Foreign interference in our elections, terrorism, self-harm. Those are things ...
CRUZ: I'm talking about censorship.
ZUCKERBERG: Well, I — I think that you would probably agree that we should remove terrorist propaganda from the service. So that, I agree. I think it is — is clearly bad activity that we want to get down. And we're generally proud of — of how well we — we do with that.
Now what I can say — and I — and I do want to get this in before the end, here — is that I am — I am very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas. That is a — a very important founding principle of — of what we do.
We're proud of the discourse and the different ideas that people can share on the service, and that is something that, as long as I'm running the company, I'm going to be committed to making sure is the case.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Cruz.
Do you want to break now?
Or do you want to keep going?
ZUCKERBERG: Sure. I mean, that was — that was pretty good. So. All right.
THUNE: All right. We have — Senator Whitehouse is up next. But if you want to take a ...
THUNE: ... a five-minute break right now, we have now been going a good two hours, so ...
THUNE: ... I will be — we'll recess for five minutes and reconvene.
GRASSLEY: We'll come to order.
GRASSLEY: Oh, okay. I want to read this first.
Before I call on Senator Whitehouse, Senator Feinstein asked permission to put letters and statements in the record, and without objection they will be put in from the ACLU, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Association for Computing — Computing Machinery Public Policy Council and Public Knowledge.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Thank you, Chairman.
ZUCKERBERG: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I want to correct one thing that I said earlier in response to a question from Senator Leahy. He had asked if — why we didn't ban Cambridge Analytica at the time when we learned about them in 2015. And I answered that what my — what my understanding was, was that they were not on the platform, were not an app developer or advertiser. When I went back and met with my team afterwards, they let me know that Cambridge Analytica actually did start as an advertiser later in 2015. So we could have in theory banned them then. We made a mistake by not doing so. But I just wanted to make sure that I updated that because I — I — I misspoke, or got that wrong earlier.
GRASSLEY: (OFF-MIKE) Whitehouse?
WHITEHOUSE: Thank you, Chairman.
Welcome back, Mr. Zuckerberg.
On the subject of bans, I just wanted to explore a little bit what these bans mean. Obviously Facebook has been done considerable reputational damage by it's association with Aleksandr Kogan and with Cambridge Analytica, which is one of the reasons you're having this enjoyable afternoon with us. Your testimony says that Aleksandr Kogan's app has been banned. Has he also been banned?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, my understanding is he has.
WHITEHOUSE: So if he were to open up another account under a name and you were able to find out that would be taken — that would be closed down?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I believe we — we are preventing him from building any more apps.
WHITEHOUSE: Does he have a Facebook account still?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I believe the answer to that is no, but I can follow up with you afterwards.
WHITEHOUSE: Okay. And with respect to Cambridge Analytica, your testimony is that first you required them to formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data. Where did that formal certification take place? That sounds kind of like a quasi-official thing, to formally certify. What did that entail?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, first they sent us an email notice from their chief data officer telling us that they didn't have any of the data any more, that they deleted it and weren't using it. And then later we followed up with, I believe, a full legal contract where they certified that they had deleted the data.
WHITEHOUSE: In a legal contract?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, I believe so.
WHITEHOUSE: Okay. And then you ultimately said that you have banned Cambridge Analytica. Who exactly is banned? What if they opened up Princeton, Rhode Island Analytica? Different corporate form, same enterprise. Would that enterprise also be banned?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that is certainly the intent. Cambridge Analytica actually has a parent company and we banned the parent company. And recently we also banned a firm called AIQ, which I think is also associated with them. And if we find other firms that are associated with them, we will block them from the platform as well.
WHITEHOUSE: Are individual principals — P-A-L-S, principals of the firm also banned?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, my understanding is we're blocking them from doing business on the platform, but I do not believe that we're blocking people's personal accounts.
WHITEHOUSE: okay. Can any customer amend your terms of service? Or is the terms of service a take it or leave it proposition for the average customer?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think the terms of service are what they are. But the service is really defined by people. Because you get to choose what information you share, and the whole service is about what friends you connect to, which people you choose to connect to ...
WHITEHOUSE: Yes, I guess my question would relate to — Senator Graham held up that big, fat document. It's easy to put a lot of things buried in a document that then later turn out to be of consequence. And all I wanted to establish with you is that that document that Senator Graham held up, that is not a negotiable thing with individual customers; that is a take it or leave it proposition for your customers to sign up to, or not use the service.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that's right on the terms of the service, although we offer a lot of controls so people can configure the experience how they want.
WHITEHOUSE: So, last question, on a different subject having to do with the authorization process that you are undertaking for entities that are putting up political content or so-called issue-ad content. You said that they all have to go through an authorization process before they do it. You said here we will be verifying the identity. How do you look behind a shell corporation and find who's really behind it through your authorization process?
Well, step back. Do you need to look behind shell corporations in order to find out who is really behind the content that's being posted? And if you may need to look behind a shell corporation, how will you go about doing that? How will you get back to the true, what lawyers would call, beneficial owner of the site that is putting out the political material?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, are — are you referring to the verification of political and issue ads?
WHITEHOUSE: Yes, and before that, political ads, yes.
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. So what we're going to do is require a valid government identity and we're going to verify the location. So we're going to do that so that way someone sitting in Russia, for example, couldn't say that they're in America and, therefore, able to run an election ad.
WHITEHOUSE: But if they were running through a corporation domiciled in Delaware, you wouldn't know that they were actually a Russian owner.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that's — that's correct.
WHITEHOUSE: Okay. Thank you, my time has expired and I appreciate the courtesy of the chair for the extra seconds. Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg.
SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UTAH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Zuckerberg, I wanted to follow up on a statement you made shortly before the break just a few minutes ago. You said that there are some categories of speech, some types of content that Facebook would never want to have any part of and takes active steps to avoid disseminating, including hate speech, nudity, racist speech, I — I — I assume you also meant terrorist acts, threats of physical violence, things like that.
Beyond that, would you agree that Facebook ought not be putting its thumb on the scale with regard to the content of speech, assuming it fits out of one of those categories that — that's prohibited?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. There are generally two categories of content that — that we're very worried about. One are things that could cause real world harm, so terrorism certainly fits into that, self-harm fits into that, I would consider election interference to fit into that and those are the types of things that we — I — I don't really consider there to be much discussion around whether those are good or bad topics.
LEE: Sure, yes, and I'm not disputing that. What I'm asking is, once you get beyond those categories of things that are prohibited, and should be, is it Facebook's position that it should not be putting its thumb on the scale; it should not be favoring or disfavoring speech based on its content, based on the viewpoint of that speech?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, in general that's our position. What we — one of the things that is really important though is that in order to create a service where everyone has a voice, we also need to make sure that people aren't bullied, or — or basically intimidated, or the environment feels unsafe for them.
LEE: Okay. So when you say in general, that's the — the exception that you're referring to, the exception being that if someone feels bullied, even if it's not a terrorist act, nudity, terrorist threats, racist speech, or something like that you might step in there. Beyond that, would you step in and put your thumb on the scale as far as the viewpoint of the content being posted?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, no. I mean, in general our — our goal is to allow people to have as much expression as possible.
LEE: Okay. So subject to the exceptions we've discussed, you would stay out of that.
Let me ask you this, isn't there a significant free market incentive that a social media company, including yours, has, in order to safeguard the data of your users? Don't you have free market incentives in that respect?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator. Yes.
LEE: Does — don't your interests align with — with those of us here who want to see data safeguarded?
LEE: Do you have the technological means available, at your disposal, to make sure that that doesn't happen and to — to protect, say, an app developer from transferring Facebook data to a third party?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, a lot of that, we do. And some of that happens outside of our systems and will require new measures. And so, for example, what we saw here was people chose to share information with an app developer. That worked according to how the system was designed.
That information was then transferred out of our system to servers that this developer, Aleksandr Kogan, had. And then that person chose to then go sell the data to Cambridge Analytica.
That is going to require much more active intervention and auditing from us to prevent, going forward, because once it's out of our system it is a lot harder for us to have a full understanding of what's happening.
LEE: From what you've said today, and from previous statements made by you and other officials at your company, data is at the center of your business model. It's how you make money. Your ability to run your business effectively, given that you don't charge your users, is based on monetizing data.
And so the real issue, it seems to me, really comes down to what you tell the public, what you tell users of Facebook, about what you're going to do with the data. About how you're going to use it.
Can you — can you give me a couple of examples, maybe two examples, of ways in which data is collected by Facebook, in a way that people are not aware of? Two examples of types of data that Facebook collects that might be surprising to Facebook users?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, I would hope that what we do with data is not surprising to people.
LEE: And has it been at times?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, I think in this case, people certainly didn't expect this developer to sell the data to Cambridge Analytica. In general, there are two types of data that Facebook has.
The vast majority — and then the first category, is content that people chose to share on the service themselves. So that's all the photos that you share, the posts that you make, what you think of as the Facebook service, right? That's — everyone has control every single time that they go to share that. They can delete that data any time they want; full control, the majority of the data.
The second category is around specific data that we collect in order to make the advertising experiences better, and more relevant, and work for businesses. And those often revolve around measuring, okay, if you — if we showed you an ad, then you click through and you go somewhere else, we can measure that you actually — that the — that the ad worked. That helps make the experience more relevant and better for — for people, who are getting more relevant ads, and better for the businesses because they perform better.
You also have control completely of that second type of data. You can turn off the ability for Facebook to collect that — your ads will get worse, so a lot of people don't want to do that. But you have complete control over what you do there as well.
GRASSLEY: Senator Schatz?
SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ (D-HAWAII): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to follow up on the questions around the terms of service. Your terms of service are about 3,200 words with 30 links. One of the links is to your data policy, which is about 2,700 words with 22 links. And I think the point has been well made that people really have no earthly idea of what they're signing up for.
And I understand that, at the present time, that's legally binding. But I'm wondering if you can explain to the billions of users, in plain language, what are they signing up for?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that's a good and important question here. In general, you know, you sign up for the Facebook, you get the ability to share the information that you want with — with people. That's what the service is, right? It's that you can connect with the people that you want, and you can share whatever content matters to you, whether that's photos or links or posts, and you get control over it.
SCHATZ: Who do you share it with?
ZUCKERBERG: And you can take it down if you want, and you don't need to put anything up in the first place if you don't want.
SCHATZ: What the part that people are worried about, not the fun part?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, what's that?
SCHATZ: The — the part that people are worried about is that the data is going to be improperly used. So people are trying to figure out are your D.M.s informing the ads? Are your browsing habits being collected?
Everybody kind of understands that when you click like on something or if you say you like a certain movie or have a — a particular political proclivity, that — I think that's fair game; everybody understands that.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not sure I — I fully understand this. In — in general, you — your — you — people come to Facebook to share content with other people. We use that in order to also inform how we rank services like news feed and ads to provide more relevant experiences.
SCHATZ: Let me — let me try a couple of specific examples. If I'm email — if I'm mailing — emailing within WhatsApp, does that ever inform your advertisers?
ZUCKERBERG: No, we don't see any of the content in WhatsApp, it's fully encrypted.
SCHATZ: Right, but — but is there some algorithm that spits out some information to your ad platform and then let's say I'm emailing about Black Panther within WhatsApp, do I get a WhatsApp — do I get a Black Panther banner ad?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we don't — Facebook systems do not see the content of messages being transferred over WhatsApp.
SCHATZ: Yes, I know, but that's — that's not what I'm asking. I'm asking about whether these systems talk to each other without a human being touching it.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think the answer to your specific question is, if you message someone about Black Panther in WhatsApp, it would not inform any ads.
SCHATZ: Okay, I want to follow up on Senator Nelson's original question which is the question of ownership of the data. And I understand as the sort of matter of principle, you were saying, you know, we want our customers to have more rather than less control over the data.
But I can't imagine that it's true as a legal matter that I actually own my Facebook data, because you're the one monetizing it. Do you want to modify that to sort of express that as a statement of principle, a sort of aspirational goal, but it doesn't seem to me that we own our own data, otherwise we'd be getting a cut.
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, you own it in the sense that you chose to put it there, you could take it down anytime, and you completely control the terms under which it's used.
When you put it on Facebook, you are granting us a license to be able to show it to other people. I mean, that's necessary in order for the service to operate.
SCHATZ: Right, but the — so the — the — so your definition of ownership is I sign up, I've voluntarily — and I may delete my account if I wish, but that's basically it.
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, I — I think that the control is much more granular than that. You can chose each photo that you want to put up or each message, and you can delete those.
And you don't need to delete your whole account, you have specific control. You can share different posts with different people.
SCHATZ: In the time I have left, I want to — I want to propose something to you and take it for the record. I read an interesting article this week by Professor Jack Balkin at Yale that proposes a concept of an information fiduciary.
People think of fiduciaries as responsible primarily in the economic sense, but this is really about a trust relationship like doctors and lawyers, tech companies should hold in trust our personal data.
Are you open to the idea of an information fiduciary and shrine and statute?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think it's certainly an interesting idea, and Jack is very thoughtful in this space, so I do think it deserves consideration.
FISCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
FISCHER: Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg, for being here today. I appreciate your testimony.
The full scope of Facebook user's activity can print a very personal picture I think. And additionally, you have those 2 billion users that are out there every month. And so we all know that's larger than the population of most countries. So how many data categories do you store, does Facebook store, on the categories that you collect?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, can you clarify what you mean by data categories?
FISCHER: Well, there's — there's some past reports that have been out there that indicate that it — that Facebook collects about 96 data categories for those 2 billion active users. That's 192 billion data points that are being generated, I think, at any time from consumers globally. So how many do — does Facebook store out of that? Do you store any?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not actually sure what that is referring to.
FISCHER: On — on the points that you collect information, if we call those categories, how many do you store of information that you are collecting?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, the way I think about this is there are two broad categories. This probably doesn't line up with whatever the — the specific report that you were seeing is. And I can make sure that we follow-up with you afterwards to get you the information you need on that. The two broad categories that I think about are content that a person is chosen to share and that they have complete control over, they get to control when they put into the service, when they take it down, who sees it. And then the other category are data that are connected to making the ads relevant. You have complete control over both. If you turn off the data related to ads, you can choose not to share any content or control exactly who sees it or take down the content in the former category.
FISCHER: And does Facebook store any of that?
FISCHER: How much do you store of that? All of it? All of it? Everything we click on, is that in storage somewhere?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we store data about what people share on the service and information that's required to do ranking better, to show you what you care about in news feed.
FISCHER: Do you — do you store text history, user content, activity, device location?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, some of that content with people's permission, we do store.
FISCHER: Do you disclose any of that?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, it — Senator, in order to — for people to share that information with Facebook, I believe that almost everything that you just said would be opt in.
FISCHER: And the privacy settings, it's my understanding that they limit the sharing of that data with other Facebook users, is that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. Every person gets to control who gets to see their content.
FISCHER: And does that also limit the ability for Facebook to collect and use it?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. There are other — there are controls that determine what Facebook can do as well. So for example, people have a control about face recognition. If people don't want us to be able to help identify when they are in photos that their friends upload, then they can turn that off.
ZUCKERBERG: And then we won't store that kind of template for them.
FISCHER: And — and there was some action taken by the FTC in 2011. And you wrote a Facebook post at the time on a public page on the Internet that it used to seem scary to people, but as long as they could make the page private, they felt safe sharing with their friends online; control was key. And you just mentioned control. Senator Hatch asked you a question and you responded there about complete control.
So you and your company have used that term repeatedly, and I believe you use it to reassure users, is that correct? That you do have control and complete control over this information?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, this is how the service works. I mean, the core thing that Facebook is, and all of our services, WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger.
FISCHER: So is this — is then a question of Facebook is about feeling safe, or are users actually safe? Is Facebook — is Facebook being safe?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think Facebook is safe. I use it, my family uses it, and all the people I love and care about use it all the time. These controls are not just to make people feel safe; it's actually what people want in the product. The reality is, is that when you — just think about how you use this yourself. You don't want to share it — if you take a photo, you're not always going to send that to the same people. Sometimes you're going to want to text it to one person. Sometimes you might send it group. I bet you have a page. You'll probably want to put some stuff out there publicly so you can communicate with your constituents.
There are all these different groups of people that someone might want to connect with, and those controls are very important in practice for the operation of the service. Not just to build trust, although I think that the providing people with control, also does that, but actually in order to make it so that people can fulfill their goals of the service.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER A. COONS (D-DEL): Thank you, Chairman Grassley. Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg, for joining us today.
I think the whole reason we're having this hearing is because of a tension between two basic principles you have laid out. First you've said about the data that users post on Facebook. You control and own the data that you put on Facebook. You said some very positive, optimistic things about privacy and data ownership. But it's also the reality that Facebook is a for-profit entity that generated $40 billion in ad revenue last year by targeting ads.
In fact, Facebook claims that advertising makes it easy to find the right people, capture their attention and get results and you recognize that an ad-supported service is, as you said earlier today, best aligned with your mission and values.
But the reality is, there's a lot of examples where ad targeting has led to results that I think we would all disagree with or dislike or would concern us. You've already admitted that Facebook's own ad tools allow Russians to target users, voters based on racist or anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant views, and that that may have played a significant role in election here in United States.
Just today, Time magazine posted a story saying that wildlife traffickers are continuing to use Facebook tools to advertise illegal sales of protected animal parts, and I am left questioning whether your ad-targeting schools would allow other concerning practices like diet pill manufacturers targeting teenagers who are struggling with their weight, or allowing a liquor distributor to target alcoholics or a gambling organization to target those with gambling problems.
I'll give you one concrete example I'm sure you are familiar with: ProPublica back in 2016 highlighted that Facebook lets advertisers exclude users by race in real estate advertising. There was a way that you could say that this particular ad, I only want to be seen by white folks, not by people of color, and that clearly violates fair-housing laws and our basic sense of fairness in the United States. And you promptly announced that that was a bad idea, you were going to change the tools, and that you would build a new system to spot and reject discriminatory ads that violate our commitment to fair housing.
COONS: And yet a year later, a follow-up story by ProPublica said that those changes hadn't fully been made; it was still possible to target housing advertisement in a way that was racially discriminatory.
And my concern is that this practice of making bold and — and engaging promises about changes and practices, and then the reality of how Facebook has operated in the real world, are in persistent tension.
Several different senators have asked earlier today about the 2011 FTC consent decree that required Facebook to better protect users' privacy.
And there are a whole series of examples where there have been things brought to your attention, where Facebook has apologized and has said we're going to change our practices and our policies. And yet, there doesn't seem to have been as much follow up as would be called for.
At the end of the day, policies aren't worth the paper they're written on if Facebook doesn't enforce them.
And I'll close with a question that's really rooted in an experience I had today, as an avid Facebook user. I woke up this morning and was notified by a whole group of friends across the country, asking if I had a new family, or if there was a fake Facebook post of Chris Coons?
I went to the one they suggested. It had a different middle initial than mine. And there's my picture with Senator Dan Sullivan's family; same schools I went to, but a whole lot of Russian friends. Dan Sullivan's got a very attractive family, by the way.
SULLIVAN: Keep that for the record there, Mr. Chairman.
COONS: The friends who brought this to my attention included people I went to law school with in Hawaii and our own attorney general in the state of Delaware.
And fortunately I've got, you know, great folks who work in my office. I brought it to their attention. They pushed Facebook and it was taken down by midday.
But I'm left worried about what happens to Delawareans who don't have these resources. It's still possible to find Russian trolls operating on the platform. Hate groups thrive in some areas of Facebook, even though your policies prohibit hate speech, and you've taken strong steps against extremism and terrorists.
But is a Delawarean who's not in the Senate going to get the same sort of quick response? I've already gotten input from other friends who say they've had trouble getting a positive response when they've brought to Facebook's attention a page that's, frankly, clearly violating your basic principals.
My core question is isn't it Facebook's job to better protect its users? And why do you shift the burden to users to flag inappropriate content and make sure it's taken down?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, there are a number of important points in there. And I think it's clear that this is an area, content policy enforcement, that we need to do a lot better on over time.
The history of how we got here is we started off in my dorm room with not a lot of resources and not having the A.I. technology to be able to proactively identify a lot of this stuff.
So just because of the sheer volume of content, the main way that this works today is that people report things to us and then we have our team review that.
And as I said before, by the end of this year, we're going to have more than 20,000 people at the company working on security and content review, because this is important.
Over time, we're going to shift increasingly to a method where more of this content is flagged up front by A.I. tools that we develop.
We've prioritized the most important types of content that we can build A.I. tools for today, like terror related content, where I mentioned earlier that our systems that we deploy; we are taking down 99 percent of the ISIS and Al Qaida-related content that we take down before a person even flags them to us.
If we fast forward 5 or 10 years, I think we're going to have more A.I. technology that can do that in more areas. And I think we need to get there as soon as possible, which is why we're investing in it.
COONS: I couldn't agree more. I just think we can't wait five years ...
COONS: ... to get housing discrimination and personally offensive material out of Facebook.
SASSE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Zuckerberg, thanks for being here. At current pace, you're due to be done with the first round of questioning by about 1:00 a.m., so congratulations.
I — I like Chris Coons a lot, with his own family, or with Dan Sullivan's family. Both are great photos. But I want to ask a similar set of questions from the other side, maybe.
I think the line — the conceptual line between mirror-tech company, mirror tools, and an actual content company, I think it's really hard. I think you guys have a hard challenge. I think regulation over time will have a hard challenge. And you're a private company so you can make policies that may be less than First Amendment full spirit embracing in my view. But I worry about that. I worry about a world where when you go from violent groups to hate speech in a hurry — and one of your responses to the opening questions, you may decide, or Facebook may decide, it needs to police a whole bunch of speech, that I think America might be better off not having policed by one company that has a really big and powerful platform.
Can you define hate speech?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that this is a really hard question. And I think it's one of the reasons why we struggle with it. There are certain definitions that — that we — that we have around, you know, calling for violence or ...
SASSE: Let's just agree on that.
SASSE: If somebody's calling for violence, we — that shouldn't be there. I'm worried about the psychological categories around speech. You used language of safety and protection earlier. We see this happening on college campuses all across the country. It's dangerous. Forty percent of Americans under age 35 tell pollsters they think the First Amendment is dangerous because you might use your freedom to say something that hurts somebody else's feelings.
Guess what? There are some really passionately held views about the abortion issue on this panel today. Can you imagine a world where you might decide that pro-lifers are prohibited from speaking about their abortion views on your content — on your platform?
ZUCKERBERG: I certainly would not want that to be the case.
SASSE: But it might really be unsettling to people who've had an abortion to have an open debate about that, wouldn't it?
ZUCKERBERG: It might be, but I don't think that that would — would fit any of the definitions of — of what we have. But I do generally agree with the point that you're making, which is as we — as we're able to technologically shift towards especially having A.I. proactively look at content, I think that that's going to create massive questions for society about what obligations we want to require companies to — to fulfill. And I do think that that's a question that we need to struggle with as a country, because I know other countries are, and they're putting laws in place. And I think that America needs to figure out and create the set of principles that we want American companies to operate under.
SASSE: Thanks. I wouldn't want you to leave here today and think there's sort of a unified view in the Congress that you should be moving toward policing more and more and more speech. I think violence has no place on your platform. Sex traffickers and human traffickers have no place on your platform. But vigorous debates? Adults need to engage in vigorous debates.
I have only a little less than two minutes left, so I'm going to shift gears a little bit. But that was about adults. You're a dad. I'd like to talk a little bit about social media addiction. You started your comments today by talking about how Facebook is and was founded as an optimistic company. You and I have had conversations separate from here. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I think as you've aged you might be a little bit less idealistic and optimistic than you were when you — when you started Facebook.
As a dad, do you worry about social media addiction as a problem for America's teens?
ZUCKERBERG: Well my hope is — is that we can be idealistic but have a broad view of our responsibility.
To your — your point about teens, this is certainly something that I think any parent thinks about, is how much do you want your kids using technology. It — at Facebook, specifically, I view our responsibility as not just building services that people like, but building services that are good for people and good for society as well.
So we study a lot of effects of well being of our — of our tools and broader technology. And you know, like any tool, there are good and — and bad uses of it.
What we find in general is that if you're using social media in order to build relationships, right? So you're — you're sharing content with friends, you're interacting, then that is associated with all of the long-term measures of well-being that you'd intuitively thing of.
Long-term health, long-term happiness, long-term feeling connected, feeling less lonely. But if you're using the Internet and social media primarily to just passively consume content, and you're not engaging with other people, then it doesn't have those positive effects and it could be negative.
SASSE: We're — we're almost at time, so I want to — I want to ask you one more. Do social media companies hire consulting firms to help them figure out how to get more dopamine feedback loops so that people don't want to leave the platform?
ZUCKERBERG: No, Senator. That's not how we talk about this, or — or how we set up our product teams. We want our products to be valuable to people. And if they're valuable, then people choose to use them.
SASSE: Are you aware of other social media companies that do hire such consultants?
ZUCKERBERG: Not sitting here today.
GRASSLEY: Senator Markey?
MARKEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In response to Senator Blumenthal's pointed questions, you refused to answer whether Facebook should be required by law to obtain clear permission from users before selling or sharing their personal information.
So I'm going to ask it one more time. Yes or no. Should Facebook get clear permission from users before selling or sharing sensitive information about your health, your finances, your relationships? Should you have to get their permission?
That's, essentially, the consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission that you signed in 2011. Should you have to get permission? Should the consumer have to opt in?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we do require permission to use the — the system, and to — to put information in there, and for — for all the uses of it.
I want to be clear. We don't sell information. So regardless of whether we could get permission to do that, that's just not a thing that we're going to go do.
MARKEY: So would you support legislation? I have a bill, Senator Blumenthal referred to it, The Consent Act, that would just put on the books a law that said that Facebook, and any other company that gathers information about Americans, has to get their permission, their affirmative permission, before it can be reused for other purposes.
Would you support that legislation to make it a national standard for not just Facebook, but for all the other companies out there? Some of them, bad actors. Would you support that legislation?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I — I — in general, I think that that principle is exactly right. And I think we should have a — a discussion around how to best apply that.
MARKEY: No, would you support legislation to back that general principle, that opt-in, that getting permission is the standard. Would you support legislation to make that the American standard?
Europeans have passed that as a law. Facebook's going to live with that law beginning on May 25th. Would you support that as the law in the United States?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, as a principle, yes, I would. I think the details matter a lot, and now that ...
MARKEY: Right. But assuming that we work out the details, you do support opt-in as the standard? Getting permission affirmatively as the standard for the United States? Is that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that that's the right principle. And a hundred billion times a day in our services, when people go to share content, they choose who they want to share it with affirmatively.
MARKEY: So you — you — you could support a law that enshrines that as the promise that we make to the American people, that permission has to be obtained before their information is used. Is that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. I said that in principle I think that that makes sense, and the details matter and I look forward to having our team work with you on fleshing that out.
MARKEY: Right. So the next subject, because I want to, again I want to make sure that we kind of drill down here. You earlier made reference to the Child Online Privacy Protection Act of 1999, which I am the author of. So that is the constitution for child privacy protection online in the country, and I'm very proud of that. But, there are no protections additionally for a 13, a 14, or a 15-year-old. They get the same protections that a 30-year-old or a 50-year-old get.
So I have a separate piece of legislation to insure that kinds who are under 16 absolutely have a privacy bill of rights, and that permission has to be received from their parents for their children before any of their information is reused for any other purpose other than that which was originally intended. Would you support a child online privacy bill of rights for kids under 16 to guarantee that that information is not reused for any other purpose without explicit permission from the parents for the kids?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think, as a general principle, I think protecting minors and protecting their privacy is extremely important, and we do a number of things on Facebook to do that already, which I am happy to ...
MARKEY: I appreciate that. I'm talking about a law. I'm talking about a law. Would you support a law to insure that kids under 16 have this privacy bill of rights? I had this conversation with you in your office seven years ago, both this specific subject and Palo Alto. And I think that's really what the American people want to know right now: What is the protections of this? What are the protections that are going to be put on the books for their families, but especially for their children? Would you support a privacy bill of rights for kids where opt in is the standard? Yes or no?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that that's an important principle and ...
MARKEY: I appreciate that.
ZUCKERBERG: ... and I think we should ...
MARKEY: But we need a law to protect those children. That's my question to you. Do you think we need a law to do so? Yes or no?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not sure if we need a law, but I think that this is certainly a thing that deserves a lot of discussion.
MARKEY: And again, I couldn't disagree with you more. We're leaving these children to the most rapacious commercial predators in the country will exploit these children unless we absolutely have a law on the books. And I think it's ...
GRASSLEY: Please give a short — please give a short answer.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I look forward to having my team follow up to have my team flesh out the details of it.
GRASSLEY: Senator Flake? Senator Flake?
MARKEY: ... issued to get a correct answer to that.
FLAKE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg. Thanks for enjoying so far, and I'm sorry if I plow old ground; I had to be away for a bit.
I, myself, and Senator Coons, Senator Peters, and a few others were in the country of Zimbabwe just a few days ago. We met with opposition figures who had talked about you know their goal is to be able to have access to state-run media.
FLAKE: In many African countries, many countries around the world, third-world countries, small countries, the only traditional media is state run, and we ask them how they get their message out, and it's through social media. Facebook provides a very valuable service in many countries for opposition leaders or others who simply don't have access, unless maybe just before an election, to traditional media. So that's very valuable, and I think we all recognize that.
On the flip side, we've seen with Rohingya, that example of, you know, where the state could use similar data or use this platform to go after people. You talked about what you're doing in that regard, hiring more, you know, traditional — or, local-language speakers. What else are you doing in that regard to ensure that these states don't — or, these governments go after opposition figures or others?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, there are three main things that we're doing, in Myanmar specifically, and that will apply to — to other situations like that. The first is hiring enough people to do local language support, because the definition of hate speech or things that can be racially coded to incite violence are very language-specific and we can't do that with just English speakers for people around the world. So we need to grow that.
The second is, in these countries there tend to be active civil society, who can help us identify the figures who are — who are spreading hate. And we can work with them in order to make sure that those figures don't have a place on our platform.
The third is that there are specific product changes that we can make in order to — that — that might be necessary in some countries but not others, including things around news literacy — right.
And, like, encouraging people in — in different countries about, you know, ramping up or down. You know, things that we might do around fact-checking of content, specific product-type things that we would implement in different places. But I think that that's something that we're going to have to do in a number of countries.
FLAKE: There are obviously limits, you know, native speakers that you can hire or people that have eyes on the page. Artificial intelligence is going to have to take the bulk of this. How — how much are you investing in working on — on that tool to — to do what, really, we don't have or can't hire enough people to do?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think you're absolutely right that over the long term, building A.I. tools is going to be the scalable way to identify and root out most of this harmful content. We're investing a lot in doing that, as well as scaling up the number of people who are doing content review.
One of the things that I've mentioned is this year we're — or, in the last year, we've basically doubled the number of people doing security and content review. We're going to have more than 20,000 people working on security and content review by the end of this year. So it's going to be coupling continuing to grow the people who are doing review in these places with building A.I. tools, which is — we're — we're working as quickly as we can on that, but some of this stuff is just hard. That, I think, is going to help us get to a better place on eliminating more of this harmful content.
FLAKE: Thank you. You've talked some about this, I know, do you believe that Russian and/or Chinese governments have harvested Facebook data and have detailed data sets on Facebook users? Has your forensic analysis shown you who else, other than Cambridge Analytica, downloaded this kind of data?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we have kicked-off an investigation of every app that had access to a large amount of people's data before we locked down the platform in 2014. That's underway, I imagine we'll find some things, and we are committed to telling the people who were affected when we do. I don't think, sitting here today, that we have specific knowledge of — of other efforts by — by those nation-states. But, in general, we assume that a number of countries are trying to abuse our systems.
GRASSLEY: (Inaudible) person is Senator Hirono.
HIRONO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Zuckerberg, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has proposed a new extreme vetting imitative which they have renamed VISA Life Cycle vetting, that sounds less scary.
They have already held an industry that they advertised on the federal contracting website to get input from tech companies on the best way to, among other things, and I'm quoting ICE, “exploit publicly available information, such as media, blogs, public hearings, conferences, academic websites, social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to extract pertinent information regarding targets.”
And basically what they — what they want to do with these targets is to determine, and again, I'm quoting ICE's own document, they want — ICE has been directed to develop processes that determine and evaluate an applicant, i.e. targets probability of becoming a positively contributing member of society as well as their ability to contribute to national interest in order to meet the executive order. That is the president's executive order.
And then ICE must also develop a mechanism or methodology that allows them to assess whether an applicant intends to commit criminal or terrorists acts after entering the United States. Question to you is, does Facebook plan to cooperate with this extreme vetting initiative, and help the Trump administration target people for deportation or other ICE enforcement?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don't know that we've had specific conversations around that. In general ...
HIRONO: If you were asked to provide or cooperate with ICE so that they could determine whether somebody is going to commit a crime, for example, or become fruitful members of our society, would you cooperate?
ZUCKERBERG: We would not proactively do that. We cooperate with law enforcement in two cases. One is if we become aware of an imminent threat of harm, then we will proactively reach out to law enforcement, as we believe is our responsibility to do.
The other is when law enforcement reaches out to us with a valid legal subpoena or — or request for data. In those cases, if their request is overly broad or we believe it's not a legal request, then we're going to push back aggressively.
HIRONO: Well, let's assume that ICE doesn't have a — a — there's no law or rule that requires that Facebook cooperate to allow them to get this kind of information so that they can make those kinds of assessments, it sounds to me as though you would decline?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that is correct.
HIRONO: Is there some way that — well, I know that you determine what kind of content would be deemed harmful, so do you believe that ICE can even do what they are talking about?
Namely, through a combination of various kinds of information including information that they would hope to obtain from entities such yours, predict who would commit crimes or present a national security problem. Do you think that — that that's even doable?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not familiar enough with what they're doing to offer an informed opinion on that.
HIRONO: Well you have to make assessments as to what constitutes hate speech. That's pretty hard to do. You have to assess what election interference is. So these are rather difficult to identify, but wouldn't the — try to predict whether somebody's going to commit a crime fit into the category of pretty difficult to assess?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, it sounds difficult to me. All of these things, like you're saying, are difficult. I don't know without having worked on it or thinking about it ...
HIRONO: I think common sense would tell us that that's pretty difficult. And yet, that's what ICE is proceeding to do. You were asked about discriminatory advertising, and in February of 2017, Facebook announced that it would no longer allow certain kinds of ads that discriminated on the basis of race, gender, family status, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status, all categories prohibited by federal law and housing. And yet, after 2017, it was discovered that you could in fact place those kinds of ads.
So what is the status of whether or not these ads can currently be placed on Facebook? And have you followed through on your February 2017 promise to address this problem? And is there a way for the public to verify that you have, or are — are we just expected to trust that you've done this?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, those — those are all important questions, and in general it is against our policies to — to have any ads that are discriminatory. Some of ...
Well, you said that you wouldn't allow it, but then — was it ProPublica — could place these ads even after you said you would no longer allow these kinds of ads. So what assurance do we have from you that this is stop — going to stop?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, two things. One is that we've removed the ability to exclude ethnic groups and other sensitive categories from ad targeting. So that just isn't a feature that's even available anymore. For some of these cases, where it may make sense to target proactively a group, the enforcement today is — is still — we review ads, we screen them up front, but most of the enforcement today is still that our community flags issues for us when they come up.
So if the community flags that issue for us, then our team, which has thousands of people working on it, should take it down. We'll make some mistakes, but we try to make as few as possible. Over time, I think the strategy would be to develop more A.I. tools that can more proactively identify those types of content and do that filtering up front.
HIRONO: So it's a work in progress.
THUNE: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Hirono. Senator Sullivan's up next.
SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Mr. Zuckerberg, quite a story, right? Dorm room to the global behemoth that you guys are. Only in America, would you agree with that?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, mostly in America.
SULLIVAN: You couldn't — you couldn't do this in China, right? Or, what you did in 10 years.
ZUCKERBERG: Well — well, senator, there are — there are some very strong Chinese Internet companies.
SULLIVAN: Right but — you're supposed to answer “yes” to this question.
Okay, come on, I'm trying to help you, right?
THUNE: This is — this is the softball.
SULLIVAN: I mean, give me a break. You're in front of a bunch of — the answer is “yes,” okay, so thank you.
Now, your — your testimony — you have talked about a lot of power — you've been involved in elections. I thought your — your testimony was very interesting. All — really all over the world, the Facebook — 2 billion users, over 200 million Americans, 40 billion in revenue. I believe you and Google have almost 75 percent of the digital advertising in the U.S.
Is — one of the key issues here, is Facebook too powerful? Are you too powerful? And do you think you're too powerful?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, I think most of the time when people talk about our scale, they're referencing that we have two billion people in our community. And I think one of the big questions that we need to think through here is the vast majority of those 2 billion people are outside of the U.S. And I think that that's something that, to your point, that Americans should be proud of.
ZUCKERBERG: And when I brought up the Chinese Internet companies, I think that that's a real — a real strategic and competitive threat that, in American technology policy we (inaudible) should be thinking about.
SULLIVAN: Let me ask you another point here real quick.
I — I want to — I — I don't want to interrupt, but you know, when you look at kind of the history of this country and you look at the history of these kind of hearings, right. You're a smart guy. You read a lot of history. When companies become big and powerful and accumulate a lot of wealth and power, what typically happens from this body is there's an — there is a instinct to either regulate or break up, right.
Look at the history of this nation. You have any thoughts on those two policy approaches?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, I'm not the type of person that thinks that all regulation is bad. So I think the Internet is becoming increasingly important in people's lives, and I think we need to have a full conversation about what is the right regulation, not whether it should be or shouldn't be.
SULLIVAN: Let me — let me talk about the tension there, because I — I think it's a good point and I appreciate you mentioning that. You know, my — one of my worries on regulation, again, with a company of your size, you're saying, hey, we might be interested in being regulated. But as you know regulations can also cement the dominant power. So what do I mean by that? You know, you have a lot of lobbyists, I think every lobbyist in town is involved in this hearing in some way or another, a lot of powerful interests. You look at what happened with Dodd-Frank. That was supposed to be aimed at the big banks. The regulations ended up empowering the big banks in keeping the small banks down.
Do you think that that's a risk given your influence, that if we regulate, we're actually going to regulate into — you into a position of cemented authority when one of my biggest concerns about what you guys are doing is that the next Facebook — which we all want, the guy in the dorm room. We all want that to start it — that you are becoming so dominant that we're not able to have that next Facebook. What — what — what are your views on that?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, I agree with the point that when you're thinking through regulation, across all industries, you need to be careful that it doesn't cement in the current companies that are — that are winning.
SULLIVAN: But would you try to do that? Isn't that the normal inclination of a company, to say, hey, I'm going to hire the best guys in town and I'm going to cement in an advantage. You wouldn't do that if we were regulating you.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that — that certainly wouldn't be our approach. But — but I think — I think part of the challenge with regulation in general is that when you add more rules that companies need to follow, that's something that a larger company like ours inherently just has the resources to go do, and that might just be harder for a smaller company getting started to be able to comply with.
ZUCKERBERG: So it's not something that — like going into this, I would look at the conversation as what is the right outcome. I think there are real challenges that we face around content and privacy and in a number of areas, ads transparency, elections ...
SULLIVAN: Let me — let me get — I'm sorry to interrupt, but let me get to one final question. It kind of relates to what you're talking about in terms of content regulation and what exactly — what exactly Facebook is.
You know, you — you mention you're a tech company, a platform, but there's some who are saying that you're the world's biggest publisher. I think about 140 million Americans get their news from Facebook, and when you talk to — when you mentioned that Senator Cornyn — Cornyn, he — you said you are responsible for your content.
So which are you, are you a tech company or are you the world's largest publisher, because I think that goes to a really important question on what form of regulation or government action, if any, we would take.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, this is a — a really big question. I — I view us as a tech company because the primary thing that we do is build technology and products.
SULLIVAN: But you said you're responsible for your content, which makes ...
SULLIVAN: ... you kind of a publisher, right?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, I agree that we're responsible for the content, but we don't produce the content. I — I think that when people ask us if we're a media company or a publisher, my understanding of what — the heart of what they're really getting at, is do we feel responsibility for the content on our platform.
The answer to that, I think, is clearly “yes.” And — but I don't think that that's incompatible with fundamentally, at our core, being a technology company where the main thing that we do is have engineers and build products.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Sullivan.
UDALL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you very much, Mr. Zuckerberg, for being here today. You — you spoke very idealistically about your company, and you talked about the strong values, and you said you wanted to be a positive force in the community and the world.
And you were hijacked by Cambridge Analytica for political purposes. Are you angry about that?
UDALL: And — and you're determined — and I assume you want changes made in the law? That's what you've talked about today.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, the most important thing that I care about right now is making sure that no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world.
We have an extremely important U.S. midterm. We have major elections in India, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Hungary coming up. And we're going to take a — a number of measures, from building and deploying new A.I. tools that take down fake news, to growing our security team to more than 20,000 people, to making it so that we verify every advertiser who's doing political and issue ads, to make sure that that kind of interference that the Russians were able to do in 2016 is going to be much harder for anyone to pull off in the future.
UDALL: And — and I think you've said earlier that you support the Honest Ads Act, and so I assume that means you want changes in the law in order to — to effectuate exactly what you talked about?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes.
ZUCKERBERG: We support the Honest Ads Act. We're implementing it.
UDALL: And so are you going to — are you going to come back up here and be a strong advocate, to see that that law is passed?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, the biggest thing that I think we can do is implement it. And we're doing that.
UDALL: That's a kind of yes-or-no question, there. I hate to interrupt you, but are you going to come back and be a strong advocate? You're angry about this. You think there ought to be change. There ought to be a law put in place. Are you going to come back and be an advocate, to get a law in place like that?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, our team is certainly going to work on this. What I can say is, the biggest thing that ...
UDALL: I'm talking about you, not your team.
ZUCKERBERG: Well, Senator, I try ...
UDALL: (inaudible) come back here and be ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... not to come to D.C.
UDALL: ... an advocate for that law? That's what I want to see. I mean, you're upset about this. We're upset about this. I — I'd like a yes-or-no answer on that one.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm — I'm posting and speaking out publicly about how important this is. I don't come to Washington, D.C., too often. I'm going to direct my team to focus on this. And the biggest thing that I feel like we can do is implement it, which we're doing.
UDALL: Well, the biggest thing you can do is to be a strong advocate yourself, personally, here in Washington. Just let me make that clear. But many of us have seen the kinds of images shown earlier by Senator Leahy. You saw those images that he held up.
Can you guarantee that any of those images that can be attributed or associated with the Russian company, Internet Research Agency, have been purged from your platform?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, no, I can't guarantee that. Because this is an ongoing arms race. As long as there are people sitting in Russia whose job it is, is to try to interfere with elections around the world, this is going to be an ongoing conflict.
What I can commit is that we're going to invest significantly. because this is a top priority, to make sure that people aren't spreading misinformation or trying to interfere in elections on Facebook.
But I don't think it would be a realistic expectation, to assume that as long as there are people who are employed in Russia, for whom this is their job, that we're going to have zero amount of that, or that we're going to be 100 percent successful at preventing that.
UDALL: Now, beyond disclosure of online ads, what specific steps are you taking to ensure that foreign money is not financing political or issue ads on Facebook in violation of U.S. law? Just because someone submits a disclosure that says paid for by some 501(c)(3) or PAC, if that group has no real person in the U.S., how can we ensure it is not foreign — foreign interference?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, our verification program involves two pieces. One is verifying the identity of the person who's buying the ads, that they have a valid government identity. The second is verifying their location. So if you're sitting in Russia, for example, and you say that you're in the U.S., then we'll be able to — to make it a lot harder to do that, because what we're actually going to do is mail a code to the address that you say you're at.
And if you can't get access to that code, then you're not going to be able to run ads.
UDALL: Yes. Now, Facebook is creating an independent group to study the abuse of social media in elections. You've talked about that. Will you commit that all findings of this group are made public no matter what they say about Facebook or it's business model? Yes or no answer.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that's the purpose of this group, is that Facebook does not get to control what these folks publish. These are going to be independent academics, and Facebook has no prior publishing control. They'll be able to do the studies that — that — that they're doing and publish the results.
UDALL: And you're fine with them being public? And what's the timing on getting those out?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we're — we're kicking off the research now. Our goal is to focus on both providing ideas for preventing interference in 2018 and beyond, and also for holding us accountable to making sure that the measures that we put in place are successful in doing that. So I would hope that we will start to see the first results later this year.
UDALL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Udall.
Senator Moran is up next, and I would just say again, for the benefit of those who are here, that after a couple of more questions, we'll probably give the witness another short break.
THUNE: So we're — we're getting about almost two thirds through the — the list of members who are here to ask questions.
MORAN: Mr. Chairman, thank you. Mr. Zuckerberg, thank you for your — I'm over here. Thank you for your testimony and thank you for your presence here today. On March the 26th of this year, the FTC confirmed that it was investigating Facebook to determine whether it's privacy practices violated the FTC Act or the consent order that Facebook entered into with the agency in 2011.
I chair the Commerce committee — subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the Federal Trade Commission. I remain interested in Facebook's assertion that it rejects any suggestion of violating that consent order. Part two of that consent order requires that Facebook, quote, “clearly and prominently” display notice and obtain users' affirmative consent before sharing their information with, quote, “any third party.?
My question is how does the case of approximately 87 million Facebook friends having their data shared with a third party due to the consent of only 300,000 consenting users not violate that agreement?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, Senator, like I said earlier, I mean our view is that — is that we believe that we are in compliance with the consent order, but I think we have a broader responsibility to protect people's privacy even beyond that. And in this specific case, the way that the platform worked, that you could sign into an app and bring some of your information and some of your friends' information is how we explained it would work. People had settings to that effect. We explained and — and they consented to — to it working that way. And the — the system basically worked as it was designed.
The issue is that we designed the system in a way that wasn't good. And now we — starting in 2014, have changed the design of the system to that that way it just massively restricts the amount of — of data access that a developer could get.
MORAN: The — I'm sorry, the 300,000 people, they were treated in a way that — it was appropriate; they consented. But you're not suggesting that the friends consented?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I believe that — that we rolled out this developer platform, and that we explained to people how it worked, and that they did consent to it. It — it makes, I think, to — to go through the way the platform works. I mean, it's — in 2007, we — we announced the Facebook developer platform, and the idea was that you wanted to make more experiences social, right?
So, for example, if you — like, you might want to have a calendar that can have your friends' birthdays on it, or you might want your address book to have your friends' pictures in it, or you might want a map that can show your friends' addresses on it. In order to do that, we needed to build a tool that allowed people to sign in to an app and bring some of their information, and some of their friends' information, to those apps. We made it very clear that this is how it worked, and — and when people signed up for Facebook, they signed up for that as well.
Now, a lot of good use cases came from that. I mean, there were games that were built. There were integrations with companies that, I think, we're familiar with, like Netflix and Spotify. But over time, what became clear was that that also enabled some abuse. And that's why in 2014, we took the step of changing the platform. So now, when people sign in to an app, you do not bring some of your friends' information with you. You're only bringing your own information and you're able to connect with friends who have also authorized that app directly.
MORAN: Let me turn to the bug — your Bug Bounty program. Our subcommittee has had hearings in — a hearing in regard to Bug Bounty. Your press release indicated that was one of the six changes that Facebook initially offered to crack down on platform abuses was to reward outside parties who find vulnerabilities.
One concern I have regarding the utility of this approach is that the vulnerability disclosure programs are normally geared toward identifying unauthorized access to data, not pointing out data-sharing arrangement that likely could harm someone, but technically they abide by complex consent agreements. How do you see the Bug Bounty program that you've announced addressing the issue of that?
ZUCKERBERG: Sorry, could you — could you clarify what — what specifically ...
MORAN: How do you — how do you see that the Bug Bounty program that you are — have announced will deal with the sharing of information not permissible, as compared to just unauthorized access to data?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not — I'm not too sure I — I understand this enough to — to speak to — to that specific point, and I can have my team follow up with you on the details of that.
In general, bounty programs are an important part of the security arsenal for hardening a lot of systems. I — I think we should expect that we're going to invest a lot in hardening our systems ourselves, and that we're going to audit and investigate a lot of the folks in our ecosystem.
But even with that, having the ability to enlist other third-parties outside of the company to be able to help us out by giving them an incentive to point out when they see issues, I think is likely going to help us improve the security of the platform overall, which is why we did this.
MORAN: Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Moran.
Next up is Senator Booker.
BOOKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Hello, Mr. Zuckerberg. As you know, much of my life has been focused on low-income communities, poor communities, working-class communities, and trying to make sure they have a fair shake. This country has a very bad history of discriminatory practices towards low-income Americans and Americans of color, from the redlining FHA practices, even to more recently really just discriminatory practices in the mortgage business. I've always seen technology as a promise to democratize our nation, expand access, expand opportunities.
But unfortunately, we've also seen how platforms, technology platforms like Facebook, can actually be used to double down on discrimination and — and give people more sophisticated tools with which to discriminate.
Now in — in 19 — in 2000 — in 2016, ProPublica revealed that advertisers could use ethnic affinity, a users race to market categories to potentially discriminate overall against Facebook users in the areas of housing, employment and credit, echoing a dark history in this country, and — and also in violation of federal law.
In 2016, Facebook committed to fixing this, that the advertisers who have access to this data, to fixing it. But unfortunately a year later as — as — as ProPublica's article showed, they found that the system Facebook built was still allowing housing ads without applying — to go forward without applying these new restrictions that were put on.
Facebook then opted in a system that's very similar to what we've been talking about with Cambridge Analytica, that they could self certify that they were not engaging in these practices and complying with federal law, using this self certification away and — and — to — to overcome and to comply with rather Facebook's anti-discrimination policy.
Unfortunately, in a recent lawsuit, as of February 2018, alleges that discriminatory ads were still being created on Facebook, still disproportionately impacting low-income communities and communities of color.
Given the fact that you allow Cambridge Analytica to self certify in a way that I think — at least I think you've expressed regret over, is self certification the best and strongest way to safeguard — guard against the misuse of your platform and protect the data of users, not let it be manipulated in such a discriminatory fashion.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, this is a — a — a very important question and, in general, I think over time we're going to move towards more proactive review, with more A.I. tools to help flag problematic content.
In the near term, we have a lot of content on the platform, and we — it's — it's hard to review every single thing up front. We do a quick screen. But I — I agree with you that I think in — in this specific case, I'm not happy with where we are, and I — I think it makes sense to — to really focus on making sure that these areas get more reviews sooner.
BOOKER: And I — and I know you understand that there is a growing distrust and I know a lot of civil rights organizations have met with you about Facebook's sense of urgency to address these issues.
There's a distrust that stems from the fact and I know — I've had conversations with leaders in Facebook about the lack of diversity in the tech sector as well, people who are writing these algorithms, people who are actually policing for this data, or policing for these problems, are they going to be a part of a more diverse group that's looking at this? You're looking to hire, as you said, 5,000 new positions for among other things reviewing content, but we know in your industry, the inclusivity, it — it's a real serious problem that you are an industry that lacks diversity in a very dramatic fashion. It's not just true with Facebook; it's true with the tech area as well. And — and so it's very important for me to — to communicate that larger sense of urgency, and — and what a lot of civil rights organizations are concerned with, and — and we should be working towards more — a more collaborative approach.
BOOKER: And I'm wondering if you'd be open to opening your platform for civil rights organizations to really audit a lot of these companies dealing in areas of credit and housing, to really audit what is actually happening and better have more transparency in working with your platform.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that's a very good idea. And I think we should follow up on the details of that.
BOOKER: I also want to say that — that there was an investigation. Something's very disturbing to me, is the fact that there have been law enforcement organizations that use Facebook's platform to — to — to surveil African American organizations like Black Lives Matter.
I know you've expressed support for the group, and Philando Castile's killing was broadcast live on Facebook. But there are a lot of communities of color worried that that data can be used to surveil groups like Black Lives Matter, like folks who are trying to organize against substantive issues of discrimination in this country.
Is this something that you're committed to addressing, and to ensuring that the freedoms that civil rights activists and others are not targeted, or their work not being undermined or people not using your platform to unfairly surveil and try to undermine the activities that those groups are doing?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, Senator. I think that that's very important. We're — we're committed to that.
And in general, unless law enforcement has a very clear subpoena or ability or — or reason to get access to information, we're going to push back on that across the board.
BOOKER: And then I'd just like, for the record — my time has expired ...
BOOKER: ... but there's a lawsuit against Facebook about discrimination. And you moved for the lawsuit to be dismissed because no harm was shown. Could you please submit to the record — do you believe that people of color were not recruited for various economic opportunities are being harmed? Can you please clarify why you moved for — to dismiss that lawsuit, for the record?
GRASSLEY: For the record.
Senator Heller's up next.
HELLER: All right, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Appreciate the time, and thank you for being here. I'm over here. Thanks. And thank you for taking time. I know it's been a long day, and I think you're at the — at the final stretch, here. But I'm glad that you are here.
Yesterday Facebook sent out a notification to 87 million users that information was given to Cambridge Analytica without their consent. My daughter was one of the 87 million, and six of my staff, all from Nevada, received this notification.
Can you tell me how many Nevadans were among the 87 million that received this notification?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don't have this broken out by state right now. But I can have my team follow up with you to get you the information.
HELLER: Okay, okay. I figured that would be the answer. If, after hearing this — going through this hearing and Nevadans no longer want to have a Facebook account, if — if that's the case, if a Facebook user deletes their account, do you delete their data?
HELLER: My kids have been on Facebook and Instagram for years. How long do you keep a user's data?
ZUCKERBERG: Sorry, can ...
HELLER: How long do you keep a user's data, once they — after — after they've left? If they — if they choose to delete their account, how long do you keep their data?
ZUCKERBERG: I don't know the answer to that off the top of my head. I know we try to delete it as quickly as is reasonable. We have a lot of complex systems, and it work — takes awhile to work through all that.
But I think we try to move as quickly as possible, and I can follow up or have my team follow up ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... to get you the — the data on that.
HELLER: Okay. Have you ever said that you won't sell an ad based on personal information? Simply that — that you wouldn't sell this data because the usage of it goes too far?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, could you clarify that?
HELLER: Have you ever drawn the line on selling data to an advertiser?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator. We don't sell data at all.
So the — the way the ad system work is advertisers can come to us and say, I — I have a message that I'm trying to reach a certain type of people. They might be interested in something, they might live in a place, and then we help them get that message in front of people. But this is one of the — it's — it's widely mischaracterized about our system that we sell data. And it's actually one of the most important parts of how Facebook works is that we do not sell data. Advertisers do not get access to people's individual data.
HELLER: Have you ever collected the content of phone calls or messages through any Facebook application or service?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don't believe we have ever collected the content of — of phone calls. We have an app called Messenger that allows people to message most of their Facebook friends. And we do on — in the Android operating system allow people to use that app as their client for both Facebook messages and texts. So we do allow people to import their texts into that.
HELLER: Okay. Let me ask you about government surveillance. For years Facebook said that there'd be — that there should be strict limits of the information the government can access on Americans. And by the way, I agreed with you that privacy — because privacy is important to Nevadans. You argue that Facebook users wouldn't trust you if they thought you were giving their private information to the intelligence community. Yet you use and sell the same data to make money. And in the case of Cambridge Analytica, you don't even know how it's used after you sell it. Can you tell us why this isn't hypocritical?
ZUCKERBERG: Well senator, once again, we don't sell any data to anyone. We don't see it to advertisers, and we don't sell it to developers. What we do allow is for people to sign in to apps and bring their data and it used to be the data of some of their friends but now it isn't with them. And that I think makes sense. I mean, that's basic data portability. The ability that you own the data, you should be able to take it from one app to another if you'd like.
HELLER: Do you believe you're more responsible with millions of American's personal data than the Federal government would be?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. But, senator, the — your point about surveillance, I think that there's a very important distinction to draw here, which is that when — when organizations do surveillance people don't have control over that. But on Facebook, everything that you share there you have control over. You can — you can say I don't want this information to be there. You have full access to understand all, every piece of information that Facebook might know about you, and you can get rid of all of it. And I — I don't know of any other — any surveillance organization in the world that operates that way, which is why I think that that comparison isn't really apt here.
HELLER: With you here today, do you think you're a victim?
HELLER: Do you think Facebook as a company is a victim?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, no. I think that we have a responsibility to protect everyone in our community from anyone in — in our ecosystem who is going to potentially harm them. And I think that we haven't done enough historically ...
HELLER: Do you consider ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... and we need to step up and do more.
HELLER: Do you consider the 87 million users — do you consider them victims?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think yes. I mean, they — they did not their information to be sold to Cambridge Analytica by a developer. And — and that happened, and it happened on our watch. So even though we didn't do it, I think we have a responsibility to be able to prevent that and be able to take action sooner. And we're committing to make that we do that going forward.
ZUCKERBERG: Which is why the steps that I — that I announced before are now, they're the two most important things that we're doing are locking down the platform to make sure that developers can't get access to that much data so this can't happen again going forward, which I think is largely the case since 2014, and going backwards we need to investigate every single app that might have had access to a large amount of people's data to make sure that no one else was misusing it. If we find that they are, we're going to get into their systems, do a full audit, make sure they delete it and we're going to tell everyone who's affected.
HELLER: Mr. Chairman, thank you.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Heller. We'll go to Senator Peters and then into the break and then Senator Tillis coming out of the break. So Senator Peters.
PETERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Zuckerberg, thank you for being here today. You know, you've talked about your very humble beginnings in starting Facebook in — in your dorm room, which I appreciated that story but certainly Facebook has changed an awful lot over a relatively short period of time. When Facebook launched it's timeline feature, consumers saw their friends post chronologically, was the process.
But Facebook has since then changed to a timeline driven by some very sophisticated algorithms. And I think it has left many people, as a result of that, asking, you know, why — why am I seeing this — this feed and why am I seeing this right now. And now, in light of the Cambridge Analytica issue, Facebook users are asking, I think, some new questions right now.
Can I believe what I'm seeing and who has access to this information about me? So I think it's safe to say, very simply, that Facebook is losing the trust of an awful lot of Americans as a result of this incident. And — and I think an example of this is something that I've been hearing a lot from folks that have been coming up to me and talking about really, kind of the experience they've had, where they're having a conversation with friends.
Not on the phone, just talking. And then they see ads popping up fairly quickly on their Facebook. So I've heard constituents fear that Facebook is mining audio from their mobile devices for the purpose of ad targeting. Which I think speaks to this lack of trust that we're seeing here, but — and I understand there's some technical issues and logistical issues for that to happen.
But for the record, I think it's clear — see, I hear it all the time, including from my own staff. Yes or no, does Facebook use audio obtained from mobile devices to enrich personal information about its users?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, let me be — let me be clear on this. So you're — you're talking about this conspiracy theory that gets passed around that we listen to what's going on, on your microphone and use that for ads.
ZUCKERBERG: We don't do that. To be clear, we do allow people to take videos on their — on their devices and — and share those. And of course videos also have audio, so — so we do, while you're taking a video, record that and use that to make the service better by making sure that your videos have audio. But I — I mean that, I think, is pretty clear, but I just wanted to make sure I was exhaustive there.
PETERS: Well, I appreciate that. And hopefully that'll dispel a lot of what I've been hearing, so thank you for saying that. Certainly the — today, in the era of mega data, we are finding that data drives everything, including consumer behavior. And so consumer information's probably the most valuable information you can get in the data ecosystem.
And certainly folks, as you've mentioned in your testimony here, people like the fact that they can have targeted ads that they're going to be interested in as opposed to being bombarded by a lot of ads that they don't have any interest in; and that consumer information is important in order for you to tailor that.
But also, people are now beginning to wonder is there an expense to that when it comes to perhaps exposing them to being manipulated or through deception. You've talked about artificial intelligence, you brought that up many times during your testimony. And I know you've employed some new algorithms to target bots, bring down fake accounts, deal with terrorism, things that you've talked about in this hearing.
PETERS: But you also know that artificial intelligence is not without its risk and that you have to be very transparent about how those algorithms are constructed. How do you see artificial intelligence, more specifically, dealing with the ecosystem by helping to get consumer insights, but also keeping consumer privacy safe.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think the — the core question you're asking about, A.I. transparency, is a really important one that people are just starting to very seriously study, and that's ramping up a lot. And I think this is going to be a very central question for how we think about A.I. systems over the next decade and beyond.
Right now, a lot of our A.I. systems make decisions in ways that people don't really understand.
ZUCKERBERG: And I don't think that in 10 or 20 years, in the future that we all want to build, we want to end up with systems that people don't understand how they're making decisions.
So having — doing the research now to make sure that the — that these systems can have those principles as we're developing them, I think is certainly a — an extremely important thing.
PETERS: Well, you bring up the — the principles. Because, as you're well aware, A.I. systems, especially in very complex environments when you have machine learning, it's sometimes very difficult to understand, as you mentioned, exactly how those decisions were arrived at. There's examples of how decisions are made in a discriminatory basis, and they can compound if you're not very careful about how that occurs.
And so, is your company — you mentioned principles. Is your company developing a set of principles that are going to guide that development?
And would you provide details to us as to what those principles are and how they will help deal with this issue?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator.
I can make sure that our team follows up and gets you the information on that.
And we have a whole A.I. ethics team that is working on developing basically the technology. It's not just about philosophical principles; it's also a technological foundation for making sure that this goes in the direction that we want.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Peters.
We'll recess for five, and come back in. So we'll give Mr. Zuckerberg a quick break here. Thanks.
THUNE: We're back. Final stretch.
And Senator Tillis is recognized.
TILLIS: Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg, for being here.
I think you've done a good job. I've been here for most of it — the session, except for about 20 minutes I watched on television back in my office.
I'm was googling earlier — actually, going on my Facebook app on my phone earlier, and I found one of your Facebook page — yeah, one of your Facebook presents is — it was the same one on March 30th, I think you posted a pic of a first stater. But further down, you listed out the facts since the new platform was released in 2007; sort of, a timeline. You start with 2007, then you jump to the Cambridge Analytica issue.
I actually think that we need to fully examine what Cambridge Analytica did. They either broke a kind of code of conduct. If they broke any other rules or agreements with you all, I hope that they suffer the consequences.
TILLIS: But I think that timeline needs to be updated. And it really needs to go back — I've read a series of three articles that were published in the MIT Technology Review back in 2012, and it talks about how proud the Obama campaign was of exploiting data on Facebook in the 2012 campaign.
In fact, somebody asked you earlier if it made you mad about what Cambridge Analytica did, and you rightfully answered yes, but I think you should probably be equally mad when a former campaign director of the Obama campaign proudly tweeted “Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the social graph, but they didn't stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.”
So you clearly had some people in your employ that apparently knew it, at least that's what this person said on Twitter, and thank goodness for Wayback and some of the other history-grabber machines. I'm sure we can get this tweet back and get it in the right context. I think when you do your research, it's important to get the whole view. I've worked in data-analytics practice for a good part of my career, and for anybody to pretend that Cambridge Analytica was the first person to exploit data, clearly doesn't work or hasn't worked in the data-analytics field.
So when you go back and do your research on Cambridge Analytica, I would personally appreciate it if you'd start back from the first known high-profile national campaign that exploited Facebook data.
In fact, they published an app that said it would grab information about my friends, their birth dates, locations and likes. So presumably if I downloaded that app that was published by the Obama campaign, I've got 4,900 friends on my Facebook page. I delete the haters and save room for family members and true friends on my personal page, as I'm sure everybody does. And that means if I clicked yes on that app, I would have approved the access of birth dates, locations, and likes of some 4,900 people without their consent. So as you do the chronology, I think it'd be very helpful so that we can take away the partisan rhetoric that's going on like this is a Republican-only issue. It's a — it's a broad based issue that needs to be fixed. And bad actors at either end of the political spectrum need to be held accountable, and I — and I trust that you all are going to work on that.
I think the one thing that I — so for that, I just want to get to the facts, and there's no way you could answer any of the questions, I'm not going to burden you with that. But I think getting that chronology would be very helpful.
The one thing I would encourage people to do is go to Facebook. I'm — I'm a proud member of Facebook, just got a post from my sister on this being National Sibling Day, so I've connected with four or five of my staff while I was giving you my undivided — or family undivided attention. But go to the privacy tab. If you don't want to share something, don't share it. This is a free service. Go on there and say I don't want to allow third party search engines to get in my Facebook page. Go on there and say only my friends can look at it. Go on there and understand what you're signing up for. It's a free app.
Last thing, we talk about all these proposed legislation, good ideas, but I have one question for you: When you were developing this app in your dorm, how many people did you have in your regulatory affairs division? Exactly. So if government takes a handy — heavy-handed approach to fix this problem, then we know very well that the next Facebook, the next thing that you're going to wake up and worry about how you continue to be relevant as the behemoth that you are today, is probably not going to happen.
TILLIS: So we — I think that there's probably a place for some regulatory guidance here, but there's a huge place for Google, Snapchat, Twitter, all the other social-media platforms to get together and create standards. And I also believe that that person who may have looked the other way when the whole social graph was extracted for the Obama campaign, if they're still working for you, they probably shouldn't, or at least there should be a business code of conduct that says, you don't play favorites, you're trying to create a fair place for people to share their ideas.
Thank you for being here.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Tillis.
HARRIS: Thank you. Thank you for being here.
I've been here for — on and off for the last four hours since you've been testifying. And I have to tell you, I'm concerned about how much Facebook values trust and transparency, if we agree that a critical component of relationship of trust and transparency is we speak truth and we get to the truth.
During the course of this hearing, these last four hours, you have been asked several critical questions for which you don't have answers. And those questions have included whether Facebook can track user's browsing activity even after the user has logged off of Facebook, whether Facebook can track your activity across devices even when you are not logged into Facebook. Who is Facebook's biggest competition? Whether Facebook may store up to 96 categories of user's information. Whether you knew whether Kogan's terms of service and whether you knew if that Kogan could sell or transfer data.
And then another case in point, specifically as it relates to Cambridge Analytica is, and a concern of mine, is that you — meaning Facebook — and I'm going to assume you personally as a CEO — became aware of December 2015 that Dr. Kogan and Cambridge Analytica misappropriated data from 87 million Facebook users. That's 27 months ago that you became — as Facebook — and perhaps you personally became aware. However a decision was made not to notify the users.
So my question is, did anyone at Facebook have a conversation at the time that you became aware of this breach, and have a conversation where in the decision was made not to contact the users?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don't know if there were any conversations at Facebook overall because I wasn't in a lot of them. But ...
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. I mean, I'm not sure what other people discussed. Are — at the time — in 2015 we heard the report that this developer, Aleksandr Kogan, had sold data to Cambridge Analytica. That's in violation of our times.
HARRIS: Correct, and were you apart of a decision — were you part of a discussion that resulted in a decision not to inform your users?
ZUCKERBERG: I don't remember a conversation like that. But the reason why ...
HARRIS: Are you aware of anyone in the leadership at Facebook who was in a conversation where a decision was made not to inform your users? Or do you believe no such conversation ever took place?
ZUCKERBERG: I'm not sure whether there was a conversation about that. But I can tell you the thought process at the time of the company, which was that in 2015, when we heard about this, we banned the developer and we demanded that they delete all of the data and stop using it, and same with Cambridge Analytica.
HARRIS: And I've heard your testimony in that regard, but I'm talking about notification of the users. And this relates to the issue of transparency and the relationship of trust, informing the user about what you know in terms of how their personal information has been misused.
And I'm also concerned that when you personally became aware of this, did you or senior leadership do an inquiry to find out who at Facebook had this information, and did they not have a discussion about whether or not the users should be informed back in December 2015?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, in retrospect, I think we clearly viewed it as a mistake that we didn't inform people and we did that based on false information that we thought that the case was closed and that the data had been deleted.
HARRIS: So there was a decision made on that basis not to inform the users. Is that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: That's my understanding. Yes.
ZUCKERBERG: But I — I — in retrospect I think that was a mistake and knowing what we know now, we should have handled a lot of things here differently.
HARRIS: I appreciate that point. Do you know when that decision was made not to inform the users?
HARRIS: Okay. Last November the Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on social media influence. I was a part of that hearing. I submitted 50 written questions to Facebook and other companies and the responses that we received were unfortunately evasive and some were frankly nonresponsive. So I'm going to ask the question again here. How much revenue did Facebook earn from the user engagement that resulted from foreign propaganda?
ZUCKERBERG: Well senator, what we do know is that the IRA, the Internet Research Agency, the — the Russian firm ran about $100,000 worth of ads. I can't say that we've identified all of the foreign actors who are involved here. So, I — I — I can't say that that's all of the money but that is what we have identified.
HARRIS: Okay. My time is up. I'll submit more questions for the record. Thank you.
Thank you Senator Harris. Next up is Senator Kennedy.
KENNEDY: Mr. Zuckerberg, I come in peace.
I — I don't want to vote to have to regulate Facebook, but by God I will. That — a lot of that depends on you. I'm a little disappointed in this hearing today. I just don't feel like that we're connecting. So — so let me try to lay it out for you from my point of view.
I think you are a really smart guy. And I think you have built an extraordinary American company and you've done a lot of good. Some of the things that you've been able to do are magical.
But our — our promised digital utopia we have discovered has minefields. There — there's some impurities in the Facebook punch bowl. And they've got to be fixed and I think you can fix them. Now here — here's what's going to happen. There are going to be a whole bunch of bills introduced to regulate Facebook. It's up to you whether they pass or not.
You can go back home, spend $10 million on lobbyists and fight us or you can go back home and help us solve this problem and they're two. One is a privacy problem the other one is what I call a propaganda problem. Let's start with the privacy problem first. Let's start with the user agreement.
Here's what everybody's been trying to tell you today, and — and I say this gently. Your user agreement sucks.
You're — you — you can spot me 75 IQ points, if I can figure it out, you can figure it out. The purpose of that user agreement is to cover Facebook's rear end. It's not to inform your users about their rights.
KENNEDY: Now, you know that and I know that. I'm going to suggest to you that you go back home and rewrite it. And tell your $1,200 an hour lawyers, no disrespect. They're good. But — but tell them you want it written in English and non-Swahili, so the average American can understand it. That would be a start.
Are you willing — as a Facebook user, are — are you willing to give me more control over my data?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, as someone who uses Facebook, I believe that you should have complete control over your data.
KENNEDY: Okay. Are — are you willing to go back and — and work on — on giving me a greater right to erase my data?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, you can already delete any of the data that's there, or delete all of your data.
KENNEDY: Are — are you willing to expand that, work on expanding that?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think we already do what you're referring to. But certainly, we're always working on trying to make these controls easier.
KENNEDY: Are — are you willing to expand my right to know who you're sharing my data with?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we already give you a list of apps that — that you're using. And you signed into those yourself, and provided affirmative consent. As I've said before ...
KENNEDY: Right. But when I use — on that — on that — on that user agreement ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... we don't share any data with ...
KENNEDY: ... are — are you willing to expand my right to prohibit you from sharing my data?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, again, I believe that you already have that control. So, I mean, I think people have that — that full control in the system already today. If we're not communicating this clearly, then that's a big thing that we should work on. Because I think the principles that you're articulating are the ones that we believe in and try to codify in the product that we build.
KENNEDY: Are — are you willing to give me the right to take my data on Facebook and move it to another social media platform?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, you can already do that. We have a download-your-information tool, where you can go get a file of all the content there, and then do whatever you want with it.
KENNEDY: And you're — are — then I assume you're willing to give me the right to say, “I'm going to go in your platform, and you're going to be able to tell a lot about me as a result, but I don't want you to share it with anybody”?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator. And I believe you already have that ability today. People can sign on and choose to not share things, and just follow some friends or some pages and read content if that's what they want to do.
KENNEDY: Okay. Let me be sure I under — I'm about out of time. Oh, it goes fast, doesn't it? Let me ask you one final question in my 12 seconds. Could somebody call you up and say, “I want to see John Kennedy's file”?
ZUCKERBERG: Absolutely not.
KENNEDY: Could you — if — not — not — could you — not would you do it. Could you do it?
ZUCKERBERG: In — in theory.
KENNEDY: Do you have the right to put my data, a name on my data and share it with somebody?
ZUCKERBERG: I do not believe we have the right to do that.
KENNEDY: Do you have the ability?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, the data is in the system. So ...
KENNEDY: Do you have the ability?
ZUCKERBERG: Technically, I think someone could do that. But that would be a massive breach. So we would never do that.
KENNEDY: It would be a breach?
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Kennedy. Senator Baldwin's up next.
BALDWIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for being here and enduring a long day, Mr. Zuckerberg. I want to start with what I hope can be a quick round of — of questions, just so I make sure I understand your previous testimony, specifically with regard to the process by which Cambridge Analytica was able to purchase Facebook users' data. So it was an app developer, Aleksandr Kogan. He collected data via a personality quiz. Is that correct?
And he thereby is able to gain access of not only the people who took the quiz but their network, is that correct, too?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. The terms of the platform at the time allowed for people to share their information and some basic information about their friends as well. And we've since changed that, as of 2014.
ZUCKERBERG: Now, that's not possible.
BALDWIN: And so, in total about 87 million Facebook users. You earlier testified about the two types of ways you gain data. One is what is voluntarily shared by Facebook members and users. And the other is in order to — I think you said improve your advertising experience, whatever that exactly means — the data that Facebook collects in order to customize or focus on that.
Did — was Aleksandr Kogan able to get both of those sets or data, or just what was voluntarily entered by the user?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, that's a good question. It was just a subset of what was entered by the person. And ...
BALDWIN: So, a subset of the 95 categories of data that you keep?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, when you sign into the app ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... you — the app developer has to say, here are the types of data from you that I'm asking for, including public information like your name and profile, the pages you follow, other interests on your profile, that kind of content.
ZUCKERBERG: The app developer has to disclose that up front, and you agree with it.
BALDWIN: Okay. So, in answer to a couple of other senators' questions, specifically Senator Fischer, you talked about Facebook storing this data and I think you just talked about this data being in the system. I wonder if, outside of the way in which Aleksandr Kogan was able to access this data, whether you — could Facebook be vulnerable to a data breach or hack, why or why not?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, there are many kinds of security threats that a company like ours faces, including people trying to break in to our security systems.
BALDWIN: Okay. And if you believe that you had been hacked, do you believe you would have the duty to inform those who were impacted?
BALDWIN: Okay. Do you know whether Aleksandr Kogan sold any of the data he collected with anyone other than Cambridge Analytica?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes, we do. He sold it to a couple of other firms.
BALDWIN: Can you identify them?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, there's one called Eunoia, and there may have been a couple of others as well. And I can follow up with ...
BALDWIN: Can you furnish that to me after?
BALDWIN: Thank you. I appreciate that.
And then, how much do you know, or have you tried to find to find out how Cambridge Analytica used the data while they had it, before you believe they deleted it?
ZUCKERBERG: Since we just heard that they didn't delete it about a month ago, we've kicked off an internal investigation to see if they used that data in any of their ads, for example. That investigation is still underway, and we will — we can come back to the results of that once we have that.
BALDWIN: Okay. I want to switch to my home state of Wisconsin.
According to press reports, my home state of Wisconsin was a major target of Russian-bought ads on Facebook in the 2016 election. These divisive ads, touching on a number of very polarizing issues, were designed to interfere with our election. We've also learned that Russian actors using another platform, Twitter, similarly targeted Wisconsin with divisive content aimed at sowing division and dissent, including in the wake of a police-involved shooting in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood in August of 2016.
Now I find some encouragement in the steps you've outlined today to provide greater transparency regarding political ads. I do want to get further information on how you can be confident that you have excluded entities based outside of the United States.
ZUCKERBERG: We'll follow up on that.
BALDWIN: And then, I think on that topic, if you require disclosure of a political ad's sponsor, what sort of transparency will you be able to provide with regard to people who weren't the subject of that ad seeing its content?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, you'll be able to go to any page and see all of the ads that that page has run. So if someone is running a political campaign, for example, and they're targeting one district with one ad and another district with another, historically it has been hard to track that down, but now it will be very easy.
You'll just be able to look at all of the ads that they've run, the targeting associated with each to see what they're saying to different folks, and in some cases how much they're spending on the ads, and all of the relevant information.
This is an area where I think more transparency will really help discourse overall and root out foreign interference in elections.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Baldwin.
BALDWIN: And will you ...
JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I do not.
JOHNSON: Would you imagine it's a very small percentage?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, who read the whole thing? I would imagine that probably most people do not read the whole thing. But everyone has the opportunity to and consents to it.
JOHNSON: Well, I agree. But that's kind of true of every application where, you know, you want to get to it and you have to agree to it, and people just press that “agree,” the vast majority, correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, it's really hard for me to make a full assessment, but ...
JOHNSON: Common sense would tell you that would be probably the case.
With all this publicity, have you documented any kind of backlash from Facebook users? I mean, has there been a dramatic falloff in the number of people who utilize Facebook because of these concerns?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, there has not.
JOHNSON: You haven't even witnessed any?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, there was a movement where some people were encouraging their friends to delete their account and I think that got shared a bunch.
JOHNSON: So it's kind of safe to say that Facebook users don't seem to be overly concerned about all these revelations, although obviously Congress apparently is.
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, I think people are concerned about it. And I think these are incredibly important issues that people want us to address. And I think people have told us that very clearly.
JOHNSON: But it seems like Facebook users still want to use the platform because they enjoy sharing photos and they share the connectivity with family members, that type of thing. And that overrides their concerns about privacy.
You talk about the user owns the data, you know, there are a number — have been a number of proposals of having that data stay with the user and allow the user to monetize it themselves. Your COO, Ms. Sandberg, mentioned possibly, if you can't utilize that data to sell advertising, perhaps we would charge people to go onto Facebook.
JOHNSON: Have you thought about that model, where the user data is actually monetized by the actual user?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not sure exactly how — how it would work for it to be monetized by the person directly. In general, where — we believe that the ads model is the right one for us because it aligns with our social mission of trying to connect everyone and bring the world closer together.
JOHNSON: But — but you're aware of people making that kind of proposal, correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. I — Senator, a number of people suggest that — that we should offer a version where people cannot have ads if they pay a monthly subscription, and certainly we consider ideas like that. I think that they're reasonable ideas to — to think through. But overall, the — I think that the ads experience is going to be the best one. I think in general, people like not having to pay for a service. A lot of people can't afford to pay for a service around the world, and this aligns with our mission the best.
JOHNSON: You answered Senator Graham when he asked you if you thought you were monopoly. That you didn't think so. You're obviously a big player in the space. That might be an area for competition, correct, if somebody else wants to create a social platform that allows a user to monetize their own data?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. There are lots of new social apps all the time. And as I said before, the average American I think uses eight different communication and social apps. So there's a lot of different choice and a lot of innovation and activity going on in this space.
JOHNSON: I want — in a very short period of time. You talked about the difference between advertisers and application developers. Because those — again, you — you said in earlier testimony that advertisers have no access to data whatsoever. But application developers do? Now, is that only through their own service agreement with their customers, or do they actually access data as they're developing applications?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, this is an important distinction, so thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify this. People — we give people the ability to take their data to another app if they want. And this is a question that Senator Kennedy asked me just a few minutes ago.
The reason why we designed the platform that way is because we — we thought it would be very useful to make it so that people could easily bring their data to other — to other services. Some people inside the company argued against that at the time because they were worried that — they said hey, we should just make it so that we can be the only ones who develop this stuff, but ...
JOHNSON: But again, that's — that's the ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... we thought that that was a — a useful thing for people to ...
JOHNSON: ... that's the user agreeing to allow you to share — when they're using that app, to allow Facebook to share that data. Does the developer ever have access to that prior to users using it? Meaning developing the application. Because you used the term “scraped” data. What does that mean? Who scraped the data?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, senator. This is a good question. So there's the developer platform, which is the sanctioned way that an app developer can ask a person to access information. We also have certain features and certain things that are public, right? A lot of the information that people choose to put on Facebook, they're sharing with everyone in the world. Not privately, but, you know, you put your name, you put your profile picture, that's public information that people put out there. And sometimes people who aren't registered developers at Facebook try to load a lot of pages in order to get access to a bunch of people's public information and aggregate it.
We fight back hard against that, because we don't want anyone to aggregate information, even if people made it public and chose to share it with everyone.
JOHNSON: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Johnson.
HASSAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg, for being here today. I want to talk to a couple of broader issues. I'm concerned that Facebook's profitability rests on two potentially problematic foundations. And we've heard other senators talk about this a little today. The foundations are maximizing the amount of time people spend on your products and collecting people's data.
HASSAN: I've looked at Facebook's 2017 corporate financial statement, where you lay out some of the major risks to your business. One risk is a decrease in, and I quote, “user engagement, including time spent on our products.” That concerns me because of the research we've seen suggesting that too much time spent on social media can hurt people's mental health, especially young people.
Another major risk to your business is the potential decline in — and here's another quote — “the effectiveness of our ad targeting or the degree to which users opt out of certain types of ad targeting, including as a result of changes that enhance the user's privacy.”
There's clearly tension, as other senators have pointed out, between your bottom line and what's best for your users. You've said in your testimony that Facebook's mission is to bring the world closer together, and you've said that you will never prioritize advertisers over that mission. And I believe that you believe that.
But at the end of the day, your business model does prioritize advertisers over the mission. Facebook is a for-profit company, and as the CEO you have a legal duty to do what's best for your shareholders. So given all of that, why should we think that Facebook, on its own, will ever truly be able to make the changes that we need it to make to protect American's well-being and privacy?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, you've raised a number of important points in there, so just let me respond in ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... in a couple of different ways. The first is that I think it's really important to think about what we're doing, is building this community over the long term. Any business has the opportunity to do things that might increase revenue in the short term, but at the expense of trust or building engagement over time. What we actually find is not necessarily that increasing time spent, especially not just in the short term, is going to be best for our business.
It actually — it aligns very closely with — with the well-being research that we've done. That when people are interacting with other people, and posting and basically building relationships, that is both correlated with higher measures of well-being, health, happiness, not feeling lonely, and that ends up being better for the business than when they're doing lower value things like just passively consuming content.
So I think that that's — that's an important point to — to ...
HASSAN: Okay, but — and I understand the point that you're trying to make here, but here's what I'm concerned about. We have heard this point from you over the last decade-plus. Since you've founded Facebook — and I understand it — you've — you founded it pretty much as a solo entrepreneur with your roommate.
But now, you know, you're sitting here at the head of a bazillion dollar company, and we've heard you apologize numerous times and promise to change, but here we are again, right? So I really firmly believe in free enterprise, but when private companies are unwilling or unable to do what's necessary, public officials have, historically, in every industry, stepped up to protect our constituents and consumers.
You've supported targeted regulations, such as the Honest Ads Act, and that's an important step for election integrity, I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of that bill. But we need to address other, broader issues as well. And today you've said you'd be open to some regulation, but this has been a pretty general conversation. So will you commit to working with Congress to develop ways of protecting constituent privacy and well-being, even if it means that that results in some laws that will require you to adjust your business model?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. We will commit to that. I think that that's an important conversation to have. Our position is not that regulation is bad. I think the Internet is so important in people's lives, and it's getting more important.
ZUCKERBERG: The expectations on Internet companies and technology companies overall are growing, and I think the real question is, “what is the right framework for this?” not “should there be one?”
HASSAN: That is very helpful, and I think the other question — and it doesn't just go to Facebook — is whether the framework should include financial penalties when large providers, like Facebook, are breached and privacy is compromised as a result. Because right now, there is very little incentive for whether it's Facebook or Equifax to actually be aggressive in protecting customer privacy and looking for potential breeches or vulnerabilities in their systems.
So what we hear after the fact, after people's privacy has been breached, after they've taken the harm that comes with that, and considerable inconvenience in addition to the harm. We've heard apologies, but there is no financial incentive right now it seems to me for these companies to aggressively stand in their consumers stead and protect their privacy. And I would really look forward to working with you on that, and getting your considered opinion about it.
ZUCKERBERG: Well senator, we — we look forward to — to discussing that with you. I would disagree however that we have no financial incentive or incentive overall to do this. This episode has clearly hurt us, and has clearly made it harder for us to achieve the social mission that we care about. And we now have to a lot of work around building trust back which — which is — is a really important part of this.
HASSAN: Well, I thank you. My time is up and — and I'll follow up with you on that.
GRASSLEY: Senator Capito.
CAPITO: Thank you, Chairman Grassley. Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg, for being here today.
I — I want to ask just kind of a process question. You've said more than a few times that Facebook users can delete from their own account at any time. Well, we know and of course I do — I've got grandchildren now with children. You tell your children, once you make that mark in — in or in — in the Internet system it never really goes away.
So my question to you is, if once — and I think you answered that — that once an individual deletes the information from their page it's gone forever from Facebook's archives. Is that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. And I think you raise a good point though, which is that it is — we will delete it from our systems but if you shared something to someone else then we can't guarantee that they don't have it somewhere else.
CAPITO: Okay. So if somebody leaves Facebook and then rejoins and asks Facebook, can you recreate my past, your answer would be?
ZUCKERBERG: If they delete their account, the answer is no. That's why we actually offer two options. We offer deactivation, which allows you to shut down or suspend your account, but not delete the information. Because actually a lot of people want to — at least for some period of time. I mean we hear students with exams coming up want to not be on Facebook because they want to make sure they can focus on the exam. So they deactivate their account temporarily, but then want the ability to turn it back on when they're ready. You can also delete your account, which is wiping everything. If you do that, then you can't get it back.
CAPITO: You can't get it back. It's gone from your archives?
CAPITO: But is it ever really gone?
ZUCKERBERG: From our systems?
CAPITO: From — from the cloud or wherever it — wherever it is. I mean, it always seems to be able to reappear in investigations and other things. Not necessarily Facebook, but some other emails and — and other things of that nature.
What about the information going from the past? The information that's already been in the Cambridge Analytica case? You can't really go back and redo that. So I'm going to assume that what we've been talking with and with the improvements that you're making now at Facebook are from this point forward. Is that a correct assumption?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I actually do think we can go back in some cases. And that's why one of the things that I announced is that we're going to be investigating every single app that had access to a large of information before we locked down the platform in 2014. And if we find any pattern of suspicious activity, then we're going to go do a full audit of their systems. And if we find that anyone's improperly using data, than we'll take action to make sure that they delete the data, and we'll inform everyone who — who may have had their data misused.
CAPITO: Okay, other — other suggestion I would make, because we're kind of running out of time here, is you've heard more than a few complaints, and I join the chorus, of the — the lapse in the time of when you discovered and when you became transparent.
And I understand you sent out two messages just today to — to users. So I would say — you say you regret that decision, that you wish you'd been more transparent at the time, so I would imagine if in the course of your investigation, you find more breaches so to speak, that you will be reinforming your Facebook customers.
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, that is correct. We have already committed that if we find any improper use, we will inform everyone affected.
CAPITO: Okay, thank you. You've said also that you want to have an active view on controlling your ecosystem. Last week the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, addressed the Drug Summit in Atlanta and spoke on the national opioid epidemic.
My state, I'm from West Virginia, and thank you for visiting and next time you visit, if you would please bring some fiber because we don't have connectivity in — in our rural areas like we really need, and Facebook could really help us with that.
So — so Commissioner Gottlieb called up — called upon social media and Internet service providers, and he mentioned Facebook when he talked about it, to try to disrupt the sale — the sale of illegal drugs and particularly the powerful opioid, Fentanyl, which has been advertised and sold online.
I know you have policies against this, the commissioner is announcing his intention to convene a meeting of chief executives and senior leaders and I want to know — can I get a commitment from you today that Facebook will commit to having a representative with Commissioner Gottlieb to finalize with this meeting?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that sounds like an important initiative, and we will send someone. And let me also say that on your point about connectivity, we do have a — a group at Facebook that is working on trying to spread Internet connectivity in rural areas, and we would be happy to follow up with you on that as well.
That's something that I'm very passionate about.
CAPITO: That's good. That's good news. Last question I have, just on the advertising, if somebody advertises on Facebook and somebody purchases something, does Facebook get a percentage or any kind of a fee associated with a successful purchase from an advertiser?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, no. The way that the system works is people — advertisers bid how much it's worth it to them to show an ad or when an action happens. So it's not that we would get a percent of the sale, but let's — let's just use an example.
So let's say you have — you're an app developer, and you — your goal is you want to get more people to install your app. You could bid in the ad system and say I will pay $3 anytime someone installs this app.
And then we basically calculate on — on our side which ads are going to be relevant for people, and we have an incentive to show people ads that are going to be relevant because we only get paid when it delivers a business result, and — and that's how the system works.
CAPITO: So it — it could be one — you could be paid for the advertisement. I mean for the sale.
ZUCKERBERG: We — we get paid when the action of the advertiser wants to — to happen, happens.
CAPITO: All right, thank you.
THUNE: Senator — Senator Cortez Masto?
Mr. Zuckerberg, thank you. It's been a long afternoon and I — I appreciate you being here and — and taking the time with every single one of us. I'm going to echo a lot of what I've heard my colleagues say today as well.
I appreciate you being here, appreciate the apology, but stop apologizing and let's make the change. I — I think it's time to really change the conduct. I appreciate the fact that you talked about your principles for Facebook: (inaudible) users on the use of the data, and that users have complete control of their data.
CORTEZ MASTO: But the skepticism that I have and I'm hoping you can help me with this is over the last what, seven years, seven, 14 years — seven years, haven't seen really much change in insuring that the privacy is there and that individual users have control over their data.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I believe that we've had the option for people to share with friends, friends of friends, a custom audience or publicly for a long time. I — I don't remember ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... exactly when we put that in place, but I believe it was before 2009.
CORTEZ MASTO: So either you can choose only friends or friends of friends to decide how you're going to share that — protect that data, correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Those are two of the options, yes.
CORTEZ MASTO: Okay. And in 2011 when the FTC started taking a look at this, they were concerned that if somebody chose only friends, that the individual user was under the impression they could continue to restrict sharing of data to a limited audience, but that wasn't the case.
And, in fact, selecting friends only did not prevent users' information from being shared with third — third-party applications their friend used. Isn't that the case, and that's why the FTC was looking at — at you and making that change? Because there was concern that if you had friends on your page, a third party could access that information. Isn't that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don't remember the exact context that the ...
CORTEZ MASTO: So let me — let me help you here. Because David Vladeck who was — spent nearly four years as director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, where he worked, including on the FTC's enforcement case against Facebook, basically identifies in this article that was the case.
That not only did Facebook misrepresent — and that's why there were eight counts of deceptive acts and practices — the actual FTC, in November's 2011 decree, basically stated — required Facebook to give users clear and conspicuous notice and to obtain affirmative — let me jump back here — to do three things. The decree barred Facebook from making any further deceptive privacy claims or — and it required Facebook get consumers' approval before changing the way it shares their data. And most importantly, the third thing, it required Facebook to give users clear and conspicuous notice and to obtain affirmative express consent before sharing their data with third parties. That was part of the FTC consent decree, correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that sounds right to me.
CORTEZ MASTO: Okay. So at that time, you're on notice that there were concerns about the sharing of data and information — users' data including those friends — with third parties, correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, my understanding ...
CORTEZ MASTO: Well, let me ask you this. Let me do it this way. In response to the FTC consent to make those changes, did you make those changes and what did you do to ensure individuals' user data was protected and they had notice of that information and that potentially third parties would be accessing that and they had to give express consent? What did you specifically do in response to that?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, a number of things. One of the most important parts of the FTC consent decree that we signed was establishing a robust privacy program at the company, headed by our chief privacy officer, Erin Egan. We're now ...
It had to be something very specific, something very simple, like you've heard from my colleagues. And that did not occur. Had that occurred, we wouldn't be here today talking about Cambridge Analytica.
CORTEZ MASTO: Isn't that really true? Had you addressed those issues then, had you done an audit, had you looked at not only the third-party applications, but audited their associated data storage as well, you would have known that this type of data information was being shared.
And that's our concern and that's what I'm saying now, time just to make a change. It's time to really address the privacy issue. It's time to really come and lead the country on this issue and how we can protect individual user's data and information. I know my time is running out, but I appreciate you being here and I'm just hoping that you're committed to working with us in the future in addressing these concerns.
THUNE: Thank you, Senator Cortez Masto.
GARDNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg, for your patience and testimony today. The end is near, I think, one, two, three or four people. So that's good news, to get out of this hearing.
A couple questions for you, to clarify one of the comments made about deleting accounts from Facebook. In the user agreement it says when you delete I.P. content, if — if it is deleted in manner similar to — it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time. How long is that?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don't know, sitting here, what our current systems are on that. But the intent is to get all the content out of the system as quickly as possible.
GARDNER: And does that mean your user data as well? It talks about I.P. content, is that the same thing as your user data; it can sit in backup copies?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that that is probably right. I — I don't — I'm not sitting here today having full knowledge of — of our current state of the systems around wiping all of the data out of backups. So I can follow up with you on that afterwards, but what I can tell you ...
GARDNER: But all backups get wiped?
ZUCKERBERG: That is certainly the way it's — it — it's supposed to work.
GARDNER: Has there ever been a failure of that?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I — I don't know. But this is — if we tell people that we're going to delete their data then we need to do that.
GARDNER: And you do, do that?
Mr. Zuckerberg, a couple of other questions I think that gets to the heart of this expectation gap as I call it, with — with the users. Facebook, as I understand it, if you're logged in to Facebook with a separate browser and you log in to another — log in to another article, open a new tab in the browser while you have the Facebook tab open, and that new tab has a Facebook button on it, you track the article that your reading. Is that correct?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... I think that there — there is functionality like that, yes.
GARDNER: Do you think users understand that?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think that they — that there is a reasonable — the — I think the answer's probably yes for the following reason, because when we show a “Like” button on a website, we show social context there. So, it says here are your friends who liked that. So in order to do that, we would have to ...
GARDNER: But if — but if you've got your Facebook browser open and you open up the article in the Denver Post, and it has a Facebook button on it, you think they know — consumers, users know, that Facebook now knows what article you're reading in the Denver Post?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, we would need to have that in order to serve up that — the — the like button and show you who your friends were who had also liked that.
GARDNER: So, I — I — I — and I think that goes to the heart of this expectation gap because I don't think consumers, users necessarily understand that. I mean, in going through this user agreement, as others have, you do need a lawyer to understand it. And I hope that you can close that expectation gap by simplifying the user agreement, making sure that people understand their privacy.
Has there ever been a violation outside of the — the — the talk about Cambridge Analytica about the privacy settings? Has a privacy setting violation ever occurred outside of Cambridge Analytica?
ZUCKERBERG: I'm not aware that we have had systems that have ...
GARDNER: So the privacy setting a — a — a consumer, a user uses, have always been respected? There's never been an instance where those privacy settings have been violated?
ZUCKERBERG: That's my understanding. I mean, this is the core thing that our company does is — you come to Facebook, you say, hey, I want to share this photo or I want to send this message to these people. And then ...
GARDNER: Has there ever been a breach of Facebook data or a hack?
ZUCKERBERG: There have been — I don't believe there has been a breach of data that we are aware of.
GARDNER: Has there been a hack?
GARDNER: Have those hacks accessed user data?
ZUCKERBERG: I don't believe so. I think we had an instance in 2013 where someone was able to install some malware on a few employees' computers and had access to some content on their computers, but I don't believe ...
GARDNER: Never to affect the user of the page? Never affected the user page?
ZUCKERBERG: I do not believe so.
GARDNER: Okay. Has the government ever asked to remove a page, have a page removed?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I believe so.
GARDNER: Okay, and has the government ever — can you get a warrant to join a page to get to be on a page — pretending you're a separate user, to be liked by that, to track what that person's doing. Do you need a warrant for that or can the government just do that? The FBI? Anybody?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not sure I fully understand. You're saying ...
GARDNER: We can follow up on that, because I do have one final question I want to ask you.
A couple days ago, I think Facebook talked about that it would label traditional advocacy as political ads. And for instance, if the Sierra Club was to run a climate change ad that would be labeled political — a political ad. If the Chamber of Commerce wanted to run or place an ad as this would be a — this would have an impact on — the climate change regulations would have an impact to talk about that through an ad, that would be labeled as political, which is different than current standards of what is political and issue advocacy.
Is it your intent to label things political that would be in contradiction to federal law?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, the intent of what we're trying to get at is the foreign election interference we've seen has taken more of the form of issue ads than direct political electioneering advertising. So because of that, we think it's important to extend the verification and transparency to issue ads in order to block the kind of interference that the Russians attempted to do, and I think will likely continue to attempt to do. That's why I think those measures are important to do.
ZUCKERBERG: Thank you, Senator Gardner. Senator Tester.
TESTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for being here today, Mark. I appreciate you coming in. I hope this isn't the last time we see you in front of committee. I know this is — we're approaching five hours, so it's been a little tenuous. Some mental gymnastics for all of us, and I just want to thank you for being here.
Facebook is an American company, and with that, I believe you've got a responsibility to protect American liberties central to our privacy. Facebook allowed a foreign company to steal private information. They allowed a foreign company to steal private information from tens of millions of Americans, largely without any knowledge of their own.
Who and how we choose to share opinions is question of personal freedom. Who we share our likes and dislikes with is a question of personal freedom. This is a troubling episode that completely shatters that's liberty, so that you understand the magnitude of this. Montanans deeply concerned — they are deeply concerned with this breach of privacy and trust.
TESTER: So you've been at this nearly five hours today. So besides taking reactive steps — and I want you to be as concise as you possibly can — what are you doing to make sure what Cambridge Analytica did, never happens again?
ZUCKERBERG: Thank you, senator.
There are three important steps that we're taking here. For Cambridge Analytica, first of all, we need to finish resolving this by doing a full audit of their systems to make sure that they delete all the data that they have and so we can fully understand what happened. There are two sets of steps that we're taking to make sure that this doesn't happen again.
The most important is restricting the amount of accessed information that developers will have going forward. The good news here is that back in 2014, we actually had already made a large change to restrict access on the platform that would have prevented this issue with Cambridge Analytica from happening again today. Clearly we did not do that soon enough.
If we'd done it a couple of years earlier, then we probably wouldn't be sitting here today. But this isn't a change that we had to take now in 2018, it's largely a change that we made back in 2014.
ZUCKERBERG: There were other parts of the platform that we also similarly can lock down now to make sure that other issues that might have been exploited, in the future won't be able to. And we've taken a number of those steps and I've outlined those in — in my written statement as well.
TESTER: I appreciate that. And you feel confident that the actions you've taken thus far — whether it was ones back in 2014 or the one that you just talked about, about locking the other parts — will adequately protect the folks that use Facebook?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I believe so ...
ZUCKERBERG: ... although security is never a solved problem.
TESTER: That's all I need. You talked about a full audit of the — of Cambridge Analytica systems. Can you do a full audit if that information's stored somewhere — some other country?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, if — right now, we're waiting on the audit because the U.K. government is doing a government investigation of them.
ZUCKERBERG: And I do believe that the government will have the ability to get into the systems even if we can't ...
TESTER: If information is stored in the U.K., but what if it's stored some other country? What if the information is stored in some other country? Can — is — is an audit even possible?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, senator, we believe a bunch of the information that we — that we will be able to audit. I think you raise an important question and if we have issues, then we — if we are not able to do an audit to our satisfaction, we are going to take legal action to enable us to do that. And if — and also, I know that the U.K. and U.S. governments are also involved in working on this as well.
TESTER: Yes, I don't — I don't really — I'm telling you, I — I have faith in the U.S. government. I really actually have faith in the U.K. too. I — there have been claims that this information is being stored in Russia. I don't care, it could be stored anywhere in the world. I don't know how you get access to that information. I'm not as smart as you are about tech information.
And so the question really becomes — and I got to move on — but the question is I don't see how you can perform a full audit if they've got stuff stored somewhere else that we can't get access to. That's all. Maybe you have other ideas on how to do that.
ZUCKERBERG: Well, I think we'll know once we get in there whether we feel like we can fully investigate everything.
TESTER: Just real quickly. Senator Schatz asked a question earlier about — about data and who owns the data. I want to dig into it a little bit more. You said — and I think multiple times during this hearing — that I own the data on Facebook if it's my data.
TESTER: And — and I'm going to tell you that I think that that sounds really good to me. But in practice — let's think about this for a second. You're making about $40 billion bucks a year on the data. I'm not making any money on it. It feels like you own the data. And in fact, I would say that the — the data that was — that was breached through Cambridge Analytic, which impacted — and correct me if these numbers are wrong — some 80 million Americans.
TESTER: My guess is that few, if any, knew that that information was being breached. If I own that data, I know it's being breached. So could — could you give me some sort of idea on how you can really honestly say it's my data when, quite frankly, they may have goods on me. I don't — I don't want them to have any information on me.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, when I say ...
TESTER: Because if I own it, I can stop it.
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. So, senator, when I say it's your data, what we mean is that you have control over how its used on Facebook. You clearly need to give Facebook a license to use it within our system.
ZUCKERBERG: Or else — or else the service doesn't work.
TESTER: Yes, I know and this license has brought up — been brought up many times a day, and I'm going to be quiet in just one second, Mr. Chairman. But the fact is, is the license is very thick, maybe intentionally, so people get tired of reading it, and don't want to.
Look, Mark, I appreciate you being here. I look forward to having another hearing. Thank you.
YOUNG: Mr. Zuckerberg, thanks so much being here and enduring the many questions today. I think its important you're here, because social media — your social media platform happens to be the ubiquitous social media platform, and there's not a senator that you heard from today that isn't on Facebook, that doesn't communicate with our constituents through Facebook. In a sense, we have to be on it, and so I think its especially important that you're here, not just for Facebook, but really for our country and beyond.
The threshold question that — that continues to emerge here today is what are the reasonable expectations of privacy that users ought to have? And I'll tell you my neighbors are unsatisfied by an answer to that question that involves, you know, “take a look at the user agreement.” And I — I think there's been a fair amount of discussion here about whether or not people actually read that user agreement. I would encourage you to, you know, survey that, get all the information you can with respect to that, and make sure that — make sure that user agreement is easy to understand and streamlined and so forth.
Mr. Zuckerberg, earlier in today's hearing you drew a distinction that I thought was interesting. It caught my attention. It was a distinction between the consumer expectation of privacy depending upon whether they were on an ISP or “the pipes of the Internet,” as you characterized it, or on an Edge platform, like Facebook.
I find this distinction somewhat unsatisfying, because most folks who use the Internet just think of it as one place, if you will. They think of it as “the Internet,” as opposed to various places requiring different degrees of privacy.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, sure. I think that people's expectations of how they use these different systems are different. Some thing — some apps are very lightweight and as are — and you can fully encrypt the data going across them in a way that the app developer or the — the pipes, in the ISP case.
You probably shouldn't be able to see any of the content, and I — I think you probably should have a full expectation that no one is going to be introspecting or looking at that content.
YOUNG: Give me some quick examples, if you would kindly, sir.
ZUCKERBERG: Sure. Well, when data is going over the Verizon network, I think it would be good for that to be as encrypted as possible, and such that Verizon wouldn't look at it, right? I think that's what people expect, and I don't know that being able to look at the data is required to — to deliver their service.
That's how WhatsApp works too, so that's an app. It's a very lightweight app. It doesn't require us to know a lot of information about you, so we can offer that with full encryption, and therefore, we're not looking — we don't see the content.
For a service like Facebook or Instagram, where you're sharing photos and then they — people want to access them from lots of different places. People kind of want to store that in a central place, so that way they can go access it from — from a lot of different devices.
In order to do that, we need to have an understanding of what that content is. So I think the — the expectations of — of what Facebook will have knowledge of versus what an ISP will have knowledge of are just different.
Might we create stronger privacy rights for consumers either through creating a stronger general property right regime online; say a new law that states unequivocally something that you said before, that users own their online data or through stronger affirmative opt in requirements on platforms like yours. Now if we were to do that, would you need to retool your model? If we were to adopt one of those two approaches?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, could you repeat what the approaches are again?
YOUNG: Yes. So one is to create a stronger property right for the individual online through a law, that states unequivocally users own their data. The other one is a stronger affirmative opt in requirement to be a user on Facebook. Would you have to fundamentally change the Facebook architecture to accommodate those policies?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, those policies and the principles that you articulated are generally how we view our service already. So depending on the details of what — what your — the proposal actually ends up being — and the details do just matter a huge amount here — it's not clear that it would be a fundamental shift.
But the details really matter and if this is something you're considering or working on, we would love to follow up with you on this because this is very important to get right.
YOUNG: I'd love to work with you. I'm out of time. Thank you.
GRASSLEY: Senator Thune has a closing comment.
GRASSLEY: ... and I have a process statement for everybody to listen to.
THUNE: Mr. Chairman thank you and — and thanks to all of our members for their patience; been a long hearing, particularly long hearing for you Mr. Zuckerberg. Thank you for — for sitting through this. But I think this is important. I do have a letter here from the Motion Picture Association of America that I want to get into the record without objection.
GRASSLEY: Without objection, so ordered.
THUNE: And then — and just a quick — quick sort of rap up question if you will and maybe one quick comment. But you've answered several questions about — today about efforts to keep bad actors, whether that's a terrorist group to a malicious foreign agent off of your platform.
You're also heard concerns about bias at Facebook, particularly bias against conservatives. And — and I just as a final question, can you assure us that when you are improving tools to stop bad actors, that you will err on the side of protecting speech especially political speech from all different corners?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, yes. That's our — that's our approach. If there is an eminent threat of harm, we're going to take conservative position on that and make sure that we flag that and understand that more broadly. But overall, I want to make sure that we provide people with the most voice possible. I want the widest possible expression and I don't want anyone at our company to make any decisions based on the — the political ideology of the content.
THUNE: Okay. And just one final observation Chairman Grassley, Mr. Zuckerberg's answered a lot of questions today but there are also a lot of questions today, but there are also a lot of promises to follow up with some of our members and sometimes on questions about Facebook practices that seem fairly straightforward, but I don't think we have — I think it's going to be hard for us to fashion solutions to — to solve some of this stuff until we have some of those answers.
And you had indicated earlier that you're continuing to try and find out who among these other analytics companies may have had access to user that — that they were able to use. And hopefully as you get those answers, you will be able to forward those to — to us and it'll help shape our thinking in terms of how — where we go from here. So — but overall I think it's a very informative hearing, Mr. Chairman, and — and — so I'm — I'm ready to wrap it up.
GRASSLEY: Yes, I probably wouldn't make this comment, but you're response to him in regard to political speech, I won't identify the CEO I had a conversation with yesterday, but one of our platforms — and he admitted to being more or left than right, or I mean being left I guess is what he admitted and I don't want to — I'm not asking you what you are, but it — but just so you understand that — that probably as liberals have a lot of concerns about, you know, the leaning of — of Fox News or conservatives have questions about the leaning of — of MSNBC let's say.
It seems to me that when you — when we get — whether it's from the right or the left, so I'm speaking to you for your platform, there's a great deal of cynicism in American society about government generally.
And then when there is suspicions, legitimate or not, that maybe you're playing on one way unfairly towards the other, it seems to me that everything you can do to lean over backwards to make sure that you are fair in protecting political speech, right or left, that you ought to do it.
And I'm not telling you how to do it, and I'm not saying you don't do it, but we've — we got to do something that reduces cynicism. At my town meetings in Iowa, I always get this question, how come you guys in D.C. can't get along?
You know, meaning Republicans and Democrats. Well I try to explain to them that they kind of get a obtuse — what would you say — review of what goes on here, because controversy makes news, so if people are getting along, you never hear about that.
So they get a distorted view of it, and — and really we — congressmen get along more than the public thinks. But these attitudes of the public, we've got to change and people of your position and your influence, you can do a lot to change this.
Whether I know you got plenty time around your corporation, through your corporation or privately, anything you can do to reduce this cynicism because we have a — a perfect constitution, maybe it's not perfect, but we got a very good constitution — the longest one written constitution in the history of man — mankind.
And — but if people don't have faith in the institutions of government, and then it's — it's our responsibility to enhance that faith so they have less cynicism in us, you know, we don't have a very strong democracy just because we've got a good constitution.
GRASSLEY: So I hope that everybody will do whatever they can to help enhance respect for government, including speaking to myself. I got to bend over backwards to do what I can so they don't — so I don't add to that cynicism.
So, I'm sorry you had to listen to me.
And so, this concludes today's hearing. Thanks to all the witnesses (sic) for attending.
The record will be open for 14 days for the members to submit additional written questions and for the witness, Mr. Zuckerberg, to make any corrections to his testimony.
The hearing is adjourned.
List of Panel Members and Witnesses
SENATE COMMERCE, SCIENCE AND TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-S.D., CHAIRMAN
SEN. ROGER WICKER, R-MISS.
SEN. CORY GARDNER, R-COLO.
SEN. DAN SULLIVAN, R-ALASKA
SEN. JAMES M. INHOFE, R-OKLA.
SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, R-W.VA.
SEN. TODD C. YOUNG, R-IND.
SEN. BILL NELSON, D-FLA., RANKING MEMBER
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL, D-WASH.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MINN.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.
SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ, D-HAWAII
SEN. EDWARD J. MARKEY, D-MASS.
SEN. GARY PETERS, D-MICH.
SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN, D-WIS.
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, D-ILL.
SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN, D-N.H.
SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO, D-NEV.
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
SEN. CHARLES E. GRASSLEY, R-IOWA, CHAIRMAN
SEN. ORRIN G. HATCH, R-UTAH
SEN. LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, R-S.C.
SEN. MICHAEL D. CRAPO, R-IDAHO
SEN. JOHN NEELY KENNEDY, R-LA.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIF., RANKING MEMBER
SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY, D-VT.
SEN. RICHARD J. DURBIN, D-ILL.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, D-R.I.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MINN.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER A. COONS, D-DEL.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.
SEN. MAZIE K. HIRONO, D-HAWAII
SEN. KAMALA D. HARRIS, D-CALIF.
FACEBOOK CEO MARK ZUCKERBERG TESTIFIES