Mark Zuckerberg marathon 5 hrs testimony to US Congress on Tuesday had hundreds of question to answer with multilateral range of topics especially for ensuing elections which includes monitoring, observing, regulation, privacy and Russian meddling in U.S. elections, he admitted to have been more vigil.
Senator Dick Durbin’s when made query about where he slept the previous evening.
“Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?” Durbin asked during an intense and closely-watched hearing about online digital privacy, and Facebook’s role in what happens to personal information once users join the platform.
Zuckerberg paused for a full eight seconds, chuckled, grimaced, and ultimately demurred.”Um, uh, no,” he said.And “if you’ve messaged anybody this week would you share with us the names of the people you’ve messaged?” the Illinois Democrat persisted. Again, a similar sense of unwillingness to answer.
“We want to do everything we can to protect the integrity of those elections.”
Facebook’s role in influencing elections has come under intense scrutiny after it admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data improperly used by Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company with ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Now governments across Asia are raising their own concerns ahead of key elections.
“One of my greatest regrets in running the company is that we were slow in identifying the Russian information operations in 2016,” Zuckerberg said.
“2018 is an incredibly important year for elections,” he added, “not just with U.S. midterms, but around the world there are important elections in India, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan and in Hungary.” He pledged to “do everything we can to protect the integrity of those elections.”
Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica data analyst-turned-whistleblower, recently tweeted that SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, had been involved in elections in India. In the run-up to the 2019 Indian general election where Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks his second term, the South Asian country has been conducting a series of state elections, including in key states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
While the testimony gave some clarity on Facebook’s practices and commitments in the region, it is unlikely that the political pressure on the company will ease anytime soon. Just hours before the hearing, human rights activists and media groups in Vietnam released an open letter accusing Facebook of coordinating with authorities in that country to suppress opposition voices.
With 828 million monthly active users, Asia accounts for more than a third of Facebook’s user base and is one of the company’s fastest-growing markets. How Zuckerberg handles the situation in the region may be key to Facebook’s future.An interesting q and no asnwer, Heller: “If a Facebook user deletes their account, do you delete their data?” Zuckerberg: “Yes” Heller: “How long do you keep a user’s data?” Zuckerberg: “I don’t know the answer to that.”