Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a cast of skeptical senators for nearly five hours Tuesday to apologize for his company’s mismanagement during the 2016 campaign and defend user privacy on the platform he founded.
Here are five notable moments:
The Silicon Valley executive apologized right off the bat, taking personal responsibility for the privacy crisis that has engulfed his platform and concerns about foreign meddling in U.S. elections.
“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well,” Zuckerberg said.
“That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy. 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.”
Addressing alleged Russia meddling
Zuckerberg acknowledged Facebook’s slow response to Russia’s alleged covert social media campaign of disinformation and fake news during the 2016 election race.
“One of my greatest regrets in running the company is that we were slow in identifying the Russian information operations in 2016,” Zuckerberg said.
“We expected them to do a number of more traditional cyber-attacks, which we did identify and notify the campaigns that they were trying to hack into them. We were slow in identifying the type of new information operations.”
Later, Zuckerberg hedged on setting higher expectations for the future, conceding that Facebook can do little to prevent foreign actors from using Facebook to meddle in elections.
“As long as there are people sitting in Russia whose job it is to try to interfere with elections around the world, this is going to be an ongoing conflict,” Zuckerberg said.
“This is an ongoing arms race.”
Facebook “working with” Mueller
The special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and Facebook was one of the major battlefields identified. So it should come as no surprise that Mueller has reached out to the social media giant for information about Russia’s actions.
In a line of questioning from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, Zuckerberg said he believes the special counsel has sent Facebook a subpoena and confirmed that while others at Facebook had been interviewed by Mueller’s team, he had not.
"I know we're working with them," Zuckerberg said, noting he had to be careful about what he could reveal.
Senator gets personal with Zuckerberg’s privacy
With Facebook’s users asking about their privacy, but Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, gave the billionaire CEO pause when he got personal about Zuckerberg’s own privacy.
“Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?” Durbin asked. A long pause followed and a wry smile from Zuckerberg preceded a sheepish, “Um, no.”
Durbin then inquired whether Zuckerberg would feel comfortable divulging the names of people he’d messaged in the past week. Zuckerberg, again, said he would not.
“I think that may be what this is all about, your right to privacy,” Durbin then said.
“Your terms of service agreement sucks”
Senators time and again confronted Zuckerberg about Facebook’s user privacy contract, bashing the platform for what lawmakers perceived as a lack of transparency in providing user information to advertisers.
But nobody put a finer point on the matter than Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., who declared, “Your terms of service agreement sucks.”
“The purpose of that user agreement is to cover Facebook's rear end. It's not to inform your users about their rights,” Kennedy said.