This article titled “Mark Zuckerberg says his personal data was included in Cambridge Analytica breach – live” was written by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 11th April 2018 21.32 Asia/Kolkata
Leonard Lance, a Republican from New Jersey, is starting us up again by talking about taking deep “offense” with censorship of conservative speech, though he says that he would care about censoring liberal speech too.
Zuck says that Facebook makes censorship mistakes against liberals too!
Facebook is an equal opportunity mistake-maker.
And we’re back! Looks like Zuckerberg took his notes with him when he left the room this time. Fool me once.
Here’s my colleague Alex Hern with a brief tweet storm on how disingenuous Zuckerberg’s statements about “owning” your data are.
Zuck: We use the data that people put into the system in order to make them more relevant.
Whenever the going gets tough, Zuck tends to fall back on a couple of lines: You have complete control over your data; You don’t have to share anything with us. He is certainly having a rougher go of it today, as the interlocutors have less patience for his talking points and diversions.
We’re taking a five minute recess.
Doris Matsui: To me if you own something, you ought to be able to control how it is used.
Matsui talks about the difference between content users share and assumptions algorithms have made about those users – the “virtual self” that Blackburn described.
Zuck: I believe people own their content.
If I take a photo of you and share it with you, who owns the data? Zuck says he would take the position that it’s “our” photo.
Matsui says: Ok but what about data brokers?
Matsui: “We might own our own data, but once it’s used in advertising we lose over control of it, isn’t that right?”
Zuck: I disagree because we don’t sell the data.
Gregg Harper, Republican from Mississippi: If Cambridge Analytica had developed the app themselves, they would have had access to the same data, correct?
Harper asks about the Obama 2012 app.
Zuck says that the big difference is that people signed into Kogan’s app and then he turned around and sold the data in violation of Facebook’s terms.
It is certainly different for people to log into an explicitly political app (Obama 2012) and had that data used for politics, than it is for people to log into a fun psychology app and have that used for politics. But important questions have been raised about whether Zuckerberg’s line that what Kogan did was actually a violation of Facebook’s terms.
Butterfield: I was looking at your website, and your leadership team does not reflect America. He notes the five top people are all white.
Zuck: We have a broader leadership than just five people
Butterfield: Not on your website!
Butterfield asks for a committment to add an African American person to the top leadership tier? Zuck demurs.
Butterfield asks for data on retention of black employees. Zuck says he’ll talk to his team.
GK Butterfield, Democrat from North Carolina, brings up Facebook and tech’s lack of diversity, noting that he talks about this with Sheryl Sandberg.
“Will you commit to personally convene a meeting of CEOs in your sectors to develop a strategy to increase racial diversity in your industry?”
Zuck: That’s a good idea we’ll follow up on.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is talking about censorship of religious and conservative publishers on Facebook. She quotes Facebook’s head of news partnerships.
Zuckerberg says that he doesn’t know who that person is.
It’s Campbell Brown.
Schakowsky wants to know whether Facebook’s adoption of GDPR will include extending the “rights” that European gets in addition to the “controls”. Zuck doesn’t really answer.
She ends with an unanswered question: “Who is going to protect us from Facebook?”
Schakowsky: How many other companies did Kogan sell the data to? And what are their names?
Zuck says he’ll follow up, and that there are “a handful” of companies who got it. Yesterday he named Eunoia as one of them.
Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, is reading a list of Zuckerberg’s many, many apologies, dating back to his pre-Facebook Harvard days.
Schakowsky: “This is proof to me that self-regulation simply does not work.”
Robert Latta, Republican from Ohio: Why didn’t the audits that you had to submit under the FTC consent decree find these problems?
Zuck: I think the broader question here is that we’ve had the FTC consent decree but we have a broader view of our responsibility.
Zuck says he doesn’t believe Kogan’s actions violated the consent decree, but was a breach of trust.
Zuckerberg’s answers on questions about the FTC consent decree are basically incoherent.
Doyle is now reading parts of the consent decree, including details which Zuckerberg says he’s not fully familiar with.
Doyle is excoriating on Zuckerberg’s flouting his own standards and users’ trust. Zuck pulls out his line for an “attack”: “I respectfully disagree.”
Mike Doyle, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is the first person I’ve heard so far to mention The Guardian’s reporting! His point is: Do you normally learn about abuses from the press? It seems as though you turned a blind eye.
Zuck: I disagree with that assessment…
Doyle: It seems like you were more concerned with attracting developers than you were with protecting users.
Steve Scalise, the majority whip: You said that there is data mining when a user is logged off for security purposes. Is that data also used for the business model?
Zuck: I believe the ad data is separate from the security data, but he’s not sure.
Scalise: Are the people who made a mistake with Diamond and Silk going to be punished?
Zuck says he’ll follow up.
Now Scalise is mentioning a study that says news feed has conservative bias. Who designs the algorithm, he asks? Was there a directive to put in a bias?
Zuck: There is no directive in any of the changes we make to have bias.
Scalise says: Please look and see if there is actually bias though.
Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Colorado, is talking through the fact that Facebook is hugely valuable, and that its business hasn’t really suffered from the current controversy. Now she’s going through various class-action lawsuits against Facebook that didn’t result in users getting any money.
She is pushing him hard on not knowing the details of these issues, such as whether or not there was any financial penalty for the FTC consent decree (there wasn’t).
Her point, which she’s getting to now, is that there’s no financial hazard for Facebook to continue in bad behavior.
Blackburn: Do you subjectively change your algorithms to prioritize or censor speech?
Zuck: We don’t think of it as censorship. We remove terrorist content.
Blackburn: Diamond and Silk are not terrorists.
The hearing today is quite a bit punchier than yesterday’s. These representatives have much less patience for Zuck’s talking points and stalling.
Blackburn calls Zuckerberg out for filibustering her questions.
Marsha Blackburn: Your cozy community is starting to look like the Truman Show… Who owns the “virtual you”? Who owns your presence online? Is it you or is them?
Zuck: I believer everyone owns their own content online.
Gene Green: If I download my Facebook data, is there other stuff that you guys still have, like browser activity or inferences Facebook draws about people?
Zuckerberg: I believe that all of your information is in that file.
Gene Green, a Democract from Texas, is asking about GDPR.
Zuck says everyone will have the same privacy controls.
Burgess asks whether Facebook is sharing its internal audits with the FTC. Zuck appears to short out for a moment, then says he doesn’t totally understand the question.
Asked about third-party app permissions, Zuck again brings up in-line controls to limit the audience of an individual post. This is not only a non-sequitur, it is (as I’ve been screaming inside my head all morning) a willful obfuscation of what actually happens on Facebook.
Michael Burgess, a Republican from Texas: Would the average consumer be able to evaluate the terms and conditions they see on third-party app permissions?
Zuck: “I think if someone wanted to know they could.”
Engel: Do you adjust your algorithms to prevent people interested in violence from other likeminded people?
Zuck says yes, that’s something we need to do, which doesn’t necessarily sound like it’s something that they already do.
Here’s an article I wrote last year about how extremists come together through Facebook groups.
Eliot Engel: You said Facebook was deceived by Kogan. Does Facebook plan to sue Kogan, Cambridge University, or Cambridge Analytica?
Zuckerberg: It’s something we’re looking into. We already took action by banning him from the platform.
Zuck says they need to understand whether “something bad” is going on at Cambridge University, since they apparently just learned about the Psychometrics Center, whose work was the inspiration for Kogan’s data scrape.
Shimkus is asking for clarification on tracking when users are logged off, and tracking across devices.
Zuck: We track certain information for security reasons and for ads reasons.
“Just because someone chose to make something public doesn’t mean that it’s good for someone to aggregate it.”
Zuck is conceding that the ad network is collecting information across other websites, which he notes that Google does as well.
John Shimkus: Who is conducting the audit?
Zuck: We’re starting with an internal investigation, will move on to third-party auditors later.
Eshoo is trying unsuccessfully to get Zuckerberg to deviate from his memorized talking points about the Kogan/CA breach. He simply will not answer her questions as they are posed.
Zuckerberg says his personal data was included in the Cambridge Analytica breach
Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California, is asking a series of questions from her constituents.
Do you think you have a moral obligation to run a platform that protects democracy?
Was your personal data included in the CA breach?
Are you willing to change your business model in the interest of protecting individual privacy?
Zuck: I’m not sure what that means.
Upton is now bringing up an advertisement that a local Michigan politician tried to run on Facebook but that was rejected. The ad language sounds like boilerplate Republican positions. Zuck says he doesn’t know what happened there.
Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, is asking whether it’s possible to craft regulation that won’t stifle startups.
Zuck: I think it is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation, but you have to be careful about what it is.
Bobby Rush: Why is the onus on the user to opt in to privacy?
Zuckerberg is not going to move off his line that users can limit the audience of their posts.
Rush moves on to Facebook’s reported violations of civil rights law forbidding discriminatory advertising.
Bobby Rush: You are truncating the basic rights of the American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by the wholesale invasion and manipulation of their right to privacy. What is the difference between Facebook’s methodology and the methodology of American political pariah J Edgar Hoover?
Zuck: On Facebook, you have control over your information. The content you share, you put there. Says that no other surveillance operation gives you the ability to opt out.
Barton: Is there any reason why we should have rules of no data sharing for Facebook users under 18?
Zuck: We have a number of measures in place to protect minors… The reality that we see is that teens often do want to share their opinions publicly.
Zuck is again talking about the ability to limit the audience of shared content, not about the targeted advertising to children based on data Facebook gathers about them.
Joe Barton is asking why Diamond and Silk were censored on Facebook. Zuck says it was a mistake.
Here’s a Washington Post article about the conservative sisters.
Will Facebook change the default user settings to minimize data collection?
Pallone asks if Facebook limits the type of data it collects and uses.
Zuck says they do, but Pallone says he doesn’t see how.
Pallone: Is Facebook changing user default settings?
Zuck says yes, that they’ve changed the way that developers can get access to data, which is not the question.
Pallone: Will you change all user default settings to minimize to the greatest extent possible all the user data? Yes or no.
Zuck says that he won’t give a one word answer.
Scratch that: Zuckerberg is explaining that Facebook doesn’t sell data despite Walden’s statement that he understands that fact.
Walden is foreclosing Zuck’s canned response that Facebook doesn’t technically sell data, arguing that it does monetize it, and stating that data might be the only thing of true value that Facebook does have.
Walden: You can send money on Facebook. Are you a financial company?
Walden notes that Facebook is increasingly broadcasting original television content: Is Facebook a media company?
Zuckerberg: I consider us to be a technology company.
Zuckerberg is still saying that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica misused or improperly obtained data, despite Senator Blumenthal’s release of the terms of service yesterday, which appeared to show that he did have permission to share, sell, and transfer the data.
Zuckerberg is now making his opening statement. If this sounds familiar, it’s because he’s reading the same words he read yesterday, in his opening statement at the Senate hearing.
Pallone: “We need comprehensive privacy and data protection legislation.”
Frank Pallone, the ranking Democrat, is now making his opening statement, noting that Facebook is ubiquitous, and most of us are locked in.
“For all the good it brings, Facebook can be a weapon for groups like Russia and Cambridge Analytica,” he says.
Walden is already showing a stronger grasp of the distinction between data users consciously share and data Facebook collects than many of the senators had yesterday.
Zuckerberg is seated and we’re getting started.
Commitee chairman Greg Walden is kicking us off with an opening statement. “While Facebook has surely grown, I worry it has not matured.”
While we are waiting for today’s hearing to get underway, let’s look back at a fun little parable of privacy from yesterday: the tale of Mark Zuckerberg’s notes.
During one of the short breaks during yesterday’s hearing, Zuck left a copy of his typed notes open on the table. When he left the room, reporters pounced. An AP photo of the talking points went viral, as reporters and Facebook critics pored over the text for the merest shred of red meat.
Some of the tidbits were legitimately interesting; others merely titillating. We now know how Zuck was prepared to respond to attacks (“Respectfully, I reject that”), that he was prepared to respond to calls for his resignation, and that he needed a bold-faced reminder that Facebook is not already compliant with forthcoming European data privacy standards.
But what should we call what happened with the notes? Was this a breach of Zuckerberg’s privacy? Or did he, by leaving the information unprotected in a public space, “share” that information with us? And is there any meaningful recourse after information that was intended for a limited audience is taken out of context and shared with an entirely different audience?
Welcome to our second day of live coverage of Mark Zuckerberg testifying before the US Congress.
Yesterday, Zuckerberg was questioned by 44 senators from two committees in a five-hour joint session.
This morning, he returns to Capitol Hill to face the House committee on energy and commerce, starting at 10am EDT.
The Senate hearing may have been a marathon, but Zuckerberg was rarely forced to break a sweat. Senators trying to press him on Facebook’s unprecedented collection and use of personal data were tripped up by semantics and technical details, providing the 33-year-old executive with the opportunity to deflate and deflect many lines of questioning.
Today, we’ll be watching to see if any representatives are able to break Zuckerberg’s talking points filibuster on the data that fuels Facebook’s advertising machine – or wring out new details about the company’s relationships with the Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan, his company GSR, and the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
For our full report on yesterday’s proceedings, check out Washington DC bureau chief David Smith’s write up here. Or if you’d like to read my thoughts on Facebook’s greatest achievement in artificial intelligence, you can find my analysis.
We’ll have a live coverage here as today’s session unfolds.
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