By: Craig Timberg, Tony Romm, & Elizabeth Dwoskin – washingtonpost.com – April 10 at 8:19 PM
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg endured an hours-long grilling by dozens of U.S. senators Tuesday during which he repeatedly apologized and promised privacy reforms but also pointedly defended his company against the threat of new legislation.
Zuckerberg invoked Facebook’s unlikely journey — from a tiny start-up he co-founded in his Harvard dorm room 14 years ago to a social media behemoth — in explaining Facebook’s frequent privacy missteps and its failure to spot and defeat Russia’s aggressive campaign to manipulate American voters in 2016 and beyond.
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Senators repeatedly challenged Zuckerberg’s explanations in the wide-ranging hearing, a rare joint session before two Senate panels — the Commerce and Judiciary committees — with 42 senators questioning the Facebook executive.
“If Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix these privacy invasions, then we will,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), the highest-ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee.
But for more than four hours, there was no flash point or loss of composure for Zuckerberg, who was appearing in his first congressional hearing after avoiding such scrutiny for years. His steadiness in the face of tough questioning helped quell the air of crisis that surrounded not just Facebook but also Silicon Valley in general, where collecting user data is essential to many businesses.
Zuckerberg has a lot of things to ‘follow up’ on after the Hill hearing.
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