Facebook Goes to Washington

In: The Lonestar Weekly   Posted 04/14/2018

This week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified at a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee hearing on Facebook, social media privacy, and the use and abuse of data.

From testimony released prior to the hearing, we knew that Facebook planned to admit some mistakes, but I wanted to know if Mr. Zuckerberg thought that Facebook bore some responsibility for the content published on its platform. 

Here is an excerpt from the hearing:  

SENATOR CORNYN: Early in the past we've been told that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and 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. You agree now that Facebook and other social media platforms are not neutral platforms but bear some responsibility for the content?  

MARK ZUCKERBERG: I agree that we're responsible for the content.

I also had some questions about data privacy concerns and what happens to data associated with a user’s account if the account is deleted. Here is the exchange: 

SEN. CORNYN: So if I choose 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.  

SEN. CORNYN: You should or do you?  


SEN. CORNYN: How about third parties that you have contracted with to use some of that underlying information perhaps to target advertising for themselves? Do you claw back that information as well, or does that remain in their --  

ZUCKERBERG: 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 --  

SEN. CORNYN: You clearly rent it.

I hope this week’s hearings are just the beginning of a conversation that results in a safer, smarter online experience for everyone.