Zucker­berg tes­ti­fies:

Zucker­berg tells se­na­tors Face­book is in ‘arms race’ with U.S. ad­ver­saries

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Erin Kelly

Telling se­na­tors that Face­book is get­ting bet­ter at us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to iden­tify fake for­eign ac­counts that may be try­ing to in­ter­fere in elec­tions and spread mis­in­for­ma­tion, CEO Mark Zucker­berg also de­scribes the strug­gle against for­eign ad­ver­saries who are seek­ing to ex­ploit the plat­form as an “arms race.”

“Peo­ple will mea­sure us on our suc­cess (in pro­tect­ing their pri­vacy). Peo­ple will see real dif­fer­ences.” Mark Zucker­berg

WASH­ING­TON – Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg told a Se­nate panel Tues­day that the gi­ant so­cial me­dia com­pany is in “an arms race” with Rus­sia and other for­eign ad­ver­saries that seek to ex­ploit the plat­form to in­flu­ence U.S. elec­tions.

Zucker­berg said Face­book is get­ting bet­ter at us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to iden­tify fake Face­book ac­counts that may try to in­ter­fere in elec­tions and spread mis­in­for­ma­tion. Rus­sian com­pa­nies with ties to the Krem­lin used fake ac­counts to try to sow divi­sion among U.S. vot­ers in the 2016 elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to Face­book.

“I have more con­fi­dence that we’re go­ing to get this right,” Zucker­berg told Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, D-Calif. He said Face­book iden­ti­fied and re­moved fake ac­counts that were try­ing to in­ter­fere in elec­tions in France and Ger­many and in Alabama’s spe­cial U.S. Se­nate elec­tion

in De­cem­ber.

As Face­book gets bet­ter at iden­ti­fy­ing and tak­ing down the fake for­eign ac­counts, groups in Rus­sia and other coun­tries get bet­ter at try­ing to fool Face­book, Zucker­berg said.

“So this is an arms race,” he said. The 33-year-old CEO ac­knowl­edged that he’s “made a lot of mis­takes in run­ning the com­pany” and is work­ing to re­store peo­ple’s faith in Face­book af­ter rev­e­la­tions that the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of as many as 87 mil­lion users was breached.

Se­nate Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man John Thune, R-S.D., charged that Face­book has a poor record of pro­tect­ing its users’ pri­vacy.

“Af­ter more than a decade of prom­ises to do bet­ter, why should we trust Face­book on pri­vacy?” Thune asked.

Zucker­berg said the com­pany is learn­ing to be more proac­tive to make sure its plat­form is used for good and not usurped by bad ac­tors.

“At the end of the day, this is go­ing to be some­thing where peo­ple will mea­sure us on our suc­cess (in pro­tect­ing their pri­vacy),” he said. “Peo­ple will see real dif­fer­ences.”

Zucker­berg’s ap­pear­ance be­fore Congress on Tues­day was his first. He sought to apol­o­gize for high-pro­file pri­vacy breaches at Face­book and con­vince doubt­ful law­mak­ers that he can fix the prob­lem with­out gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion.

Zucker­berg is try­ing to re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence af­ter rev­e­la­tions that in­for­ma­tion from up to 87 mil­lion Face­book users was shared with Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica, a data min­ing firm used by the Trump cam­paign in the 2016 elec­tion. The in­for­ma­tion was shared with­out users’ knowl­edge.

“The in­dus­try needs to work with Congress to de­ter­mine if and how we need to strengthen pri­vacy stan­dards to en­sure trans­parency for bil­lions of con­sumers,” said Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley, R-Iowa. “We can’t undo the dam­age that’s been done, but we can work to­gether in set­ting new rules of the road for our data.”

Zucker­berg faced hours of ques­tion­ing Tues­day be­fore a joint hear­ing of 44 se­na­tors who make up the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee and the Se­nate Com­merce, Sci­ence and Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee. He will re­turn Wed­nes­day morn­ing to tes­tify be­fore the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee.

Zucker­berg traded in his usual gray T-shirt and jeans for a suit to ap­pear be­fore the Se­nate com­mit­tees and faced a swarm of news pho­tog­ra­phers, who sur­rounded the wit­ness ta­ble.

Pro­test­ers set up about 100 life-size cutouts of Zucker­berg out­side the Capi­tol. The T-shirts on the card­board Zucker­bergs read, “fix fake­book.”

The Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica scan­dal comes af­ter last year’s news that a Rus­sian com­pany bought ads and placed false news sto­ries on Face­book in an ef­fort to sow dis­sen­sion among U.S. vot­ers. Zucker­berg ini­tially scoffed at the idea that Rus­sia ex­ploited the so­cial me­dia plat­form, then apol­o­gized af­ter discovering that Rus­sian com­pa­nies spent $100,000 on 3,000 ads be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the 2016 elec­tion.

In his open­ing state­ment Tues­day, Zucker­berg apol­o­gized again.

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

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Repub­li­can in Se­nate lead­er­ship, said apolo­gies are not enough.

“Face­book and other so­cial me­dia plat­forms need to come clean with the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Cornyn said in a speech be­fore Tues­day’s hear­ing. “These com­pa­nies must back up their words with ac­tions that bet­ter safe­guard the Amer­i­can con­sumer.

“Per­haps we should treat so­cial me­dia plat­forms as in­for­ma­tion fidu­cia­ries and im­pose le­gal obli­ga­tions on them, as we do with lawyers and doc­tors who are privy to some of our most per­sonal pri­vate in­for­ma­tion,” Cornyn said.


Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg ap­pears for a scold­ing by se­na­tors Tues­day.

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