44 senators asked questions and just five minutes of time allotted to discuss each query
The Hush Post: Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg faced sharp criticism in the opening comments of Tuesday’s 5-hour long Senate hearing.
Zuckerberg fielded questions on Facebook’s data collection practices, the company’s alleged monopoly power and his views on regulating internet companies.
With 44 senators asking questions, an unusually high number, and just five minutes of time allotted for each, there was limited potential for follow-up questions to and grilling of the CEO, CNN reported.
The sharpest criticism came from senator John Kennedy Kennedy, a Republican representing Louisiana, who slammed Facebook for its complicated terms of service agreement.
“Your user agreement sucks. It’s not to inform your users about their rights. I’m going to suggest to you that you go back home and rewrite it.”
On his part, which is commendable, he took responsibility for the missteps. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here,” he told the jam packed Congressional hearing.
As the Senate hearing commenced, Zuckerberg appeared serious as he listened to lawmakers.
His testimony came on Tuesday afternoon at a rare, joint hearing before two Senate panels – the Commerce and Judiciary committees. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has its own hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Spectators arrived hours ahead of the hearing and lined up along the walls of the Hart Senate Office Building, snaking from the 138-seat hearing room on the second floor.
Zuckerberg was accompanied by Facebook aides including Elliot Schrage, the company’s vice president of communications and public policy. Outside, on the Capitol Hill’s grassy lawn, over 100 life-sized cutouts of Zuckerberg sported T-shirts saying, “fix fakebook”. An advocacy group, Avaaz, tried to call attention to how fake accounts spread disinformation on the social network through this gesture. Senator John Thune, chairman of the Commerce Committee, said in his opening remarks.
“Mr. Zuckerberg, in many ways you and the company that you’ve created, the story you’ve created, represent the American Dream. Many are incredibly inspired by what you’ve done. At the same time, you have an obligation, and it’s up to you, to ensure that dream doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook.”
Although Zuckerberg has already made it clear that reforms would be undertaken, lawmakers from both parties are contemplating more aggressive legislative moves that could restrict data collection by companies and how they use it.