Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of social media platform Facebook, is slated to testify before Congress for the first time on Tuesday, April 10, for his company’s failure to protect user information. It will be the first of two back-to-back appearances the executive will make this week — the first will take place before the joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees, and on Wednesday, Zuckerberg will testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The legislature has released the entrepreneur’s prepared testimony ahead of his Wednesday hearing, in which Zuckerberg concedes that Facebook was “too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference” during the 2016 election.
“We face a number of important issues around privacy, safety, and democracy, and you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer,” begins Zuckerberg’s statement.
“Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company,” the statement reads. “For most of our existence, we focused on all the good that connecting people can bring. As Facebook has grown, people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool to stay connected to the people they love, make their voices heard, and build communities and businesses.”
Indeed, the social network has been crucial in helping individuals organize — it played a large role in disseminating the #metoo movement, has helped raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief, and also help organize the March for Our Lives demonstration. That said, Zuckerberg notes that Facebook has, for many years, been a double-edged sword. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” the executive says.
When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect in Europe in May, Facebook's revenues could be reduced by about $2.8 billion. This according to an analysis by Goldman Sachs. The penalty for breaking the law is 4% of Facebook's global revenues. That suggests that it might be cheaper for Facebook to break the law than to obey it. Coupled with an impending new EU ePrivacy rule, the new law will require online services to obtain permission from all their users for any data they take. The law is intended to prevent the widespread use of privacy-infringing data such as that involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.