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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opened his comments to Tuesday's long-awaited hearing by apologizing for a series of missteps that he acknowledges have endangered the privacy of tens of millions of Americans and helped to spread false news and Russian misinformation. 19659002] "It's clear now that we did not do enough to prevent these tools from being used to cause harm too," Zuckerberg said at the Senate hearing. "And that is due to false news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.
Zuckerberg, who for a long time avoided entering Washington affairs, took responsibility for the errors "We did not take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I manage it, and I'm responsible for what happens here. "
When the Senate hearing began, Zuckerberg seemed serious as he faced strong criticism from lawmakers.
" Mr. Zuckerberg, in many ways , you and the company you have created, the history you have created, represent the American Dream, "said Senator John Thune (RSD), chairman of the Commerce Committee, in his opening remarks" Many are incredibly inspired by what what have you done? At the same time, you have an obligation, and it's up to you, to ensure that the dream does not become a nightmare of privacy for the dozens of people who use Facebook. "
Zuckerberg's comments in Congress could have an impact on the technology industry Legislators have concerns that can lead to greater regulation of Facebook and its powerful competitors, including Google and Twitter.
Zuckerberg's testimony came Tuesday afternoon in a rare joint hearing before two panels of the Senate, the Trade and Justice committees, meeting in joint session, with up to 44 senators scheduled to question the Facebook executive The House Energy and Commerce Committee has its own hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Spectators arrived hours before the audience and lined up along the walls of the Hart Senate Office Building, from the salt to audience of 138 seats on the second floor. Inside, Facebook advisors, including Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications and public policy for the company, decided to spend time talking to reporters, one day after the social network's lobbyists sent Zuckerberg to the offices of the legislators.
list of members who attended the hearing – two committees, almost half of the entire Senate – Congress staff added an extra table to the podium. Ahead, more than two dozen photographers gathered early to take pictures of Zuckerberg when he arrives at the witness table.
His recognitions were to accentuate an extraordinary change of tone for Zuckerberg and the company he co-founded in his Harvard dorm in 2004. After years of recurring privacy controversies and official apologies, Zuckerberg has worked hard in recent weeks to convince legislators, users and regulators that Facebook is determined to offer significant changes.
The price of Facebook shares, which had drastically fallen in recent weeks the latest controversies built, rose sharply in Tuesday's operations, up to 2.5 percent in a generally strong day for the market.
The most recent controversies, involving the ease with which a political consultant and other outsiders collected data on many of the 2.2 million users, has generated a rare level of bipartisan consensus on the power of social networks to twist public discourse and endanger the functioning of democracies. Many legislators, Republicans and Democrats are asking for new laws, fines or more regulation.
Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), The highest ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee, told Zuckerberg he seemed to fidget in his chair, "If Facebook and other online companies can not or can not fix these invasions of privacy, then we will do it".
Outside, on the Capitol lawn, 100 life-sized Zuckerberg cut-outs sport t-shirts that read "fix fake book": the work of a defense group, Avaaz, trying to draw attention to how fake accounts spread the word. disinformation in the social network.
Zuckerberg, who had tried to avoid such a potentially unruly public meeting on Capitol Hill, had already made clear his desire to project contrition and willingness to undertake reform, including by backing legislation that demanded a new level of transparency for the politicians. online advertising. But lawmakers in both parties are contemplating more aggressive legislative measures that could restrict what technology companies collect data and how they use it.
"We have a problem in terms of privacy, and we have a problem in terms of propaganda," Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), A member of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview Monday. "And I hope that tomorrow Mr. Zuckerberg does not spend a lot of time saying 'I'm sorry' and apologizing, and accepting responsibility, we all know he is responsible."
Democratic Senator Edward Markey (Mass).) Plans to introduce a new bill called the CONSENT Act on Tuesday that would require social giants such as Facebook and other major web platforms to obtain explicit consent before sharing or selling personal data.
Lawmakers have also expressed interest in expanding their research to other technology companies, including Google and Twitter. But this week's focus will be sharper on Facebook.
The House committee released Zuckerberg's opening remarks Monday, as he and his advisers made their way through Capitol Hill in a series of closed-door meetings with legislators. Facebook said the prepared text of the Senate testimony was identical, although Zuckerberg can vary his comments as he delivers them.
The company has been stumbling since the November 2016 elections, during which false reports were disseminated on its platform and Russian operatives were installed an ambitious campaign to divide American voters, harm the Democrat Hillary Clinton and increase the possibilities of the Republican Donald Trump.
Facebook seemed to be recovering from those controversies until last month's revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy hired by Trump and other Republicans, improperly gained access to the data of 87 million Facebook users, including 71 million Americans. . The company last week recognized a separate problem in which "malicious actors" were able to identify and collect data from Facebook users on such a massive scale that most of the company's 2.2 billion users were affected.