‘Facebook’s Top Priority Is To Connect People, Fight Fake News’

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Washington: Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg during his Congressional testimony on Tuesday said that he was doing everything possible to protect the integrity of the upcoming important elections across the world.

The 33-year-old faced 44 Senators during the five-hour marathon session at US Congress, over allegations of data breach, which is said to impact more than 80 million Facebook users.

“The most important thing I care about right now is making sure no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world,” he testified before a 44-Senator panel.

“As long as there are people sitting in Russia whose job it is to try and interfere with elections around the world, this is going to be an ongoing conflict,” the 33-year-old billionaire said.

Zuckerberg accepted that the company did not do enough to prevent the platform from being used to harm others. In his opening remarks, he said: Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all of the good that connecting people can do.

“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, for interference in elections and we didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake and it was my mistake and I’m sorry,” the Facebook CEO noted.

With 44 senators asking questions, and just five minutes of time allotted for each, there was limited potential for follow-up questions to and grilling of the CEO.

His apology came as Facebook faced a widening scandal where a British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica improperly gathered detailed information on 87 million of its users.

“It’s not enough to just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive. It’s not enough to give people a voice. We have to make sure people aren’t using it to harm people or spread disinformation,” Zuckerberg told senators.

He continued: “I want to be careful here because our work with the special counsel is confidential and I want to make sure that in an open session I’m not revealing something that is confidential.”

Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, asked Zuckerberg if he’s willing to make a commitment to protect political speech from “all different corners”.

 

On a question if Facebook has a political bias, he said that the platform’s goal was not to engage political speech.

Zuckerberg said he understands the concerns, especially because “Facebook and tech industry is located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place”.

But he said he tries to make sure Facebook does not have any bias in the work that it does.Zuckerberg is scheduled to again testify, this time before a House panel, on Wednesday.

Zuckerberg started the congressional inquisition with a public apology, and took responsibility for failing to prevent British firm Cambridge Analytica from collecting personal information of the Facebook users.

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