Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of social media platform Facebook, testified before Congress for the first time on Tuesday, April 10, for his company’s failure to protect user information. It was the first of two back-to-back appearances for the executive this week. The first took place before the joint hearing of the Senate judiciary and commerce committees, and on Wednesday, Zuckerberg is testifying in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It won’t be easy, given the temperament in Congress.
“There are going to be people who are going to say Facebook ought to be broken up,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said recently. “There have been a number of proposals and ideas for doing it, and I think unless [Zuckerberg] finds a way to honor the promise he made several years ago, he’s gonna have a law on his hands.”
Indeed, there are those who believe that Zuckerberg should resign as a result of the privacy scandal, which came to a head with the revelation that 87 million users may have had their privacy violated. On Tuesday, ahead of Zuckerberg’s first testimony in front of Congress, activist investor group Open MIC and its CEO Michael Connor said in a statement, “Mark Zuckerberg’s prepared testimony highlights a simple fact: He doesn’t understand how a large, global and publicly held company is run. He currently has two jobs at Facebook — CEO and Chairman of the Board. It’s time for him to give up at least one, if not both, titles.”
“It is long past time for Facebook to separate the roles of company CEO and Chairman,” Connor continued, “and for Mark Zuckerberg to resign or be fired.”
Zuckerberg, for his part, will do his best to defend himself and his company against what is sure to be a rather vicious series of questions from Congress.
“We face a number of important issues around privacy, safety, and democracy, and you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer,” Zuckerberg’s statement began. “Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all the good that connecting people can bring. As Facebook has grown, people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool to stay connected to the people they love, make their voices heard, and build communities and businesses.”
Indeed, the social network has been crucial in helping individuals organize — it played a large role in disseminating the #metoo movement, has helped raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief, and also help organize the March for Our Lives demonstration.
That said, Zuckerberg notes that Facebook has, for many years, been a double-edged sword. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” the executive said. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.” The comments echo full-page ads Facebook has taken out recently. Will it be enough to sway the public?
Zuckerberg’s full remarks can be found below:
Updated on April 11: Added information on how to live-stream Zuckerberg’s testimony on Wednesday.
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