6 things we learnt from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony

Ahead of a scheduled appearance before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees and another appearance before the House Energy Committee on Wednesday, Congress has released a transcript of prepared testimony that Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg plans to deliver.

In the transcript, Zuckerberg takes responsibility for allowing bad actors exploit the site he created to connect people all over the world.

He said it is clear to him now that “we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm,” including the pervasiveness of so-called 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,” the transcript continues “I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

Zuckerberg says the social media giant has a greater responsibility than just connecting people – it must also ensure the tools are used for good.

See below six things we learned from the transcript:

  • Facebook will do more to protect user’s data

It is already known that Facebook gives user’s the tools to control their data but, Zuckerberg now says that the social media giant ensures developers are protecting the data they receive from his company.

The transcript reads: “Over the past few weeks, we have been working to understand exactly what happened with Cambridge Analytica and taking steps to make sure this does not happen again. We took important actions to prevent this from happening again today four years ago, but we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step and do it.

  • Facebook knew about Russian cyber threats such as hacking and malware for years

Facebook said it’s “security team has been aware of Russian cyber threats like hacking and malware – for years” even up to the November 2016 Election Day which they “detected and dealt with” – such as activity by a group that the U.S. government had publicly linked to Russian military intelligence services.

Even after the election, Facebook said it continued to learn more about these new threats and found out that “bad actors had used coordinated networks of fake accounts to interfere in the election”.

  • About 126 million people over two years could have seen content from a Russian-linked troll farm

Facebook also found out about a “disinformation campaign run by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) – a Russian agency that has repeatedly acted deceptively and tried to manipulate people in the U.S., Europe, and Russia.”

Therefore, approximately 126 million people may have been served content from a Facebook Page associated with the IRA at some point during that period.

On Instagram, the company estimates an additional 20 million people likely saw similar content.

  • Facebook is determined to prevent future abuse

Facebook is building new technology to keep abuse from happening again, including preventing nation states from meddling in other countries’ elections. The social media has developed advanced artificial intelligence tools to remove fake accounts and says the tools have already shown promise in elections in France, Germany and Alabama.

Facebook says: “Significantly increasing our investment in security. We now have about 15,000 people working on security and content review. We’ll have more than 20,000 by the end of this year.

“… but I want to be clear about what our priority is: protecting our community is more important than maximizing profits.”

  • Facebook will make political ads more transparent

Every advertiser who wants to run political or issue ads must be authorised and confirm their identity and location. Those entities will be labeled as such and will have to disclose who paid for the ads.

It says that for greater political ads transparency, it has built a tool that lets anyone see all of the ads a page is running.

We’re testing this in Canada now and we’ll launch it globally this summer.”

  • Facebook’s improvement on information sharing

For this, the company says it is working with other technology companies to share information about threats – also cooperating with the U.S. and foreign governments on election integrity.

You can find the full text here.

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