Published: Fri, April 13, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Sen. Dick Durbin puts a spotlight on Facebook and privacy

Sen. Dick Durbin puts a spotlight on Facebook and privacy

What happened with Cambridge Analytica illustrates how our personal boundaries for using that data in the real world are being tested.

During his congressional testimony, Mark Zuckerberg said that "there will always be a version of Facebook that is free", quickly raising the question about another, and possibly ad-free, version that users would have to pay for. It shouldn't be a surprise that Zuckerberg was taken to task by some members of Congress for not acting on the Cambridge Analytica situation - and some of the underlying issues that made the debacle possible - any sooner.

Zuckerberg said, "For obvious reasons we do not allow people to turn off the measurement that we do around security".

Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many have criticized the CEO for "spying" on people, as one congresswoman put it, and non-consensually using their information for the benefit of the growth of the company.

This astronomical figure highlighting people's distrust is hugely influenced by the recent incident involving Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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Sputnik: Zuckerberg's talking about the fact that we shouldn't overregulate social media and other tech companies. It is, it's nuanced, and what we try to, we try to lay this out in our community standards, which are public documents that we can make sure that you and your office get to look through the definitions on this.

On the topic of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election, Mr Zuckerberg admitted it would be hard to completely eradicate such behaviour for "as long as Russia employs people for the activity". Luján then pressed him on how many data points the company collects on both users and non-users, but Zuckerberg said he doesn't know.

"You are using Facebook to hurt people", he told Zuckerberg.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, repeatedly accused Zuckerberg of bias against conservative Facebook pages, saying they're more likely to be censored than left-leaning ones.

By the time of the hearing's first break, Facebook's share price had risen by 5% - adding £3bn to his net worth.

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If Zuckerberg doesn't want to talk about this issue in front of lawmakers, it may be because he fears regulation that would curb Facebook's ability to track data on third-party sites. "We don't sell data to anyone". Communications professor Dr. Nolan Higdon at Cal State East Bay said, "They tried to show themselves off as asking tough questions, but there seemed to be very little care for answers".

Plenty of the jokes about the hearing had to do with The Social Network - the 2010 film which told the story of Facebook's creation.

"I consider us to be a technology company, because the primary thing that we do is have engineers who write code and build products and services for other people", he said. "But there are also things like, 'how does it affect children, how does the platform create addiction, how does the platform encourage extremism, how does the platform push American values onto other countries?'" "We build planes to help connect people, and I don't consider ourselves to be an aerospace company", he said.

"But it's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used as harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy", Zuckerberg said.

"I don't want anyone at our company to make any decisions based on the political ideology of the content".

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