***Live Updates*** Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before Congress

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
AP /Andrew Harnik

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today after testifying before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees yesterday. Just nine of the 55 members on the Committee have not received any donations from Facebook.

Breitbart Tech’s Allum Bokhari, who has been out front and a must-read on all things Big Tech and Facebook, suggested four critical questions that Senators should ask Zuckerberg. He has six more that the House should ask him today.

Though the legacy media want the focus of the hearing to be about privacy, the bigger issue is whether Facebook is working to blunt the influence of right-of-center news outlets and personalities while propping up establishment outlets and those in good standing with them.

Breitbart Tech reported this week that since Facebook’s algorithm alteration, legacy media outlets like CNN have seen “remarkable” increases in engagement on the social-media platform while non-legacy outlets on the right have seen the biggest drops, according to independent analysis from Newswhip.

At Breitbart News’s blockbuster live town hall event (“Masters of the Universe”: Big Tech vs. Free Speech and Privacy) in Louisiana last week, Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, said point blank that Big Tech held back during the 2016 election because they never imagined that Donald Trump could win the presidency. But it’s a whole new ball game now.

“They held back… they will never hold back again,” he said.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for live updates of Zuckerberg’s testimony. All times eastern. Read Zuckerberg’s prepared remarks here. Watch live here. 

10:20: Pallone doesn’t buy that Zuckerberg is changing user settings so they default towards more privacy.

10:16: Walden says twice as many people watched Tom Brady’s reality show than the Oscars. He points out that Facebook also has exclusive rights to 25 Major League Baseball games (Facebook broadcast Mets vs. Phillies) last week. He asks if Facebook is a media company. Zuckerberg says it’s a tech company and again says it is responsible for content. Zuckerberg adds that Facebook helps build planes to help connect people but he doesn’t consider his company an “aerospace company.” Walden asks if Facebook is a financial institution. Zuckerberg again says it’s a tech company.

10:11: Zuckerberg reading his prepared testimony.

Yesterday:

10:10: Ranking Member Pallone (D-NJ) obsessed about 2016 and wants additional hearings with other tech executives about what went wrong in 2016. He wants “comprehensive legislation” to prevent another 2016. Pallone blames Republicans for being complicit in the “privacy by press release” cycle. Get the sense hearing will be more political than yesterday’s.

10 AM: Round Two: He’s back! Zuckerberg takes his seat before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) calls the Committee to order, as the questioning is about to start. Walden tells Zuckerberg he wants to discuss breaches of trust and the relationship between tech companies and its users. Walden says Facebook may have grown but may not have matured while breaking too many things. He wants to know what Facebook is–a social media company, advertising company, publisher, etc…

Tuesday’s Senate Hearing:

7:21: Grassley urges Zuckerberg to help end “cynicism.” Zuckerberg shakes Grassley’s hand and seems to have a friendly exchange with Sen. Kennedy (R-LA), who has been one of his toughest critics, before leaving the room.

7:20: It seems like Democrats are not concerned at all about Facebook suppressing political speech/points of view. Telling that Democrats did not ask Zuckerberg about its algorithm changes and ability to boost establishment media outlets and left-of-center outlets. For some reason, they don’t seem to concerned at all that Facebook will suppress left-of-center articles and ideas.

7:15: Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) asks if Facebook would have to change its architecture re: online property rights and opt-in agreements. Zuckerberg says details matter but thinks fundamental changes would not be necessary. But he says that details matter.

7:10: Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) asks Zuckerberg if the company can conduct a full Cambridge Analytica audit if the data is stored in a foreign country like Russia. Tester also says it seems like, contrary to what Zuckerberg has been saying all day about users owning their data, Facebook actually owns the data since it is making nearly $40 billion a year off of it.

7:00: Zuckerberg tells Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) that users are probably aware that Facebook tracks what its users are reading. Gardner asks if privacy violations have occurred outside of Cambridge Analytica, and Zuckerberg says he’s not aware of any. Zuckerberg says there have been Facebook hacks, but he says he doesn’t believe the hacks accessed user data. Zuckerberg says the government has asked to have pages removed.

6:50: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) uses part of her time to thank Zuckerberg for visiting West Virginia and asks him to bring fibers next time he visits to get her state more connected. Zuckerberg says he will be happy to work with her on the issue.

6:38: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) gives Zuckerberg an excuse to say that he has not seen a drop off in engagement from Facebook users. Johnson tells Zuckerberg that Facebook’s users probably don’t care too much about the data-breach issues because they like sharing photos and connecting with their friends and family. Zuckerberg explains that advertisers do not have access to data while app developers do and he says some within the company had argued against creating a platform that would allow data to be shared across various platforms.

6:25: Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who says he comes in peace, says he doesn’t want to regulate Facebook but it depends on Zuckerberg. He says he’s disappointed in today’s hearing and doesn’t feel like “we’re connecting.” Kennedy says there are impurities in Facebook’s punch bowl.

He says Facebook has two problems–privacy and propaganda.

“Your user agreement sucks,” Kennedy says, suggesting that Zuckerberg re-write Facebook’s user agreement because the current one only serves to cover Facebook’s rear end.

6:19: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) says she’s concerned about how much Facebook values “trust and transparency.” Harris says Zuckerberg has failed to answer critical questions, like whether Facebook does cross-device tracking or what the company’s top competitor is… She asks if anyone at Facebook had a conversation at the time Zuckerberg became aware of the data breach and decided not to identify the users impacted.

Zuckerberg says he doesn’t “remember” having a conversation not to inform Facebook’s users. He says he’s not sure whether Facebook executives had such conversations. Zuckerberg again says in retrospect the company made a “mistake.” Zuckerberg says he doesn’t know when the decision was made to not inform users.

Harris asks Zuckerberg how much Facebook made from foreign actors advertising on Facebook. Zuckerberg says the company has identified $100,000.

6:15: Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) says Zuckerberg should be just as mad at the Obama campaign, referencing the campaign’s former staffer who revealed that Facebook allowed them to “suck out the whole social graph” because Facebook was on their side.

5:55: Zuckerberg tells Sen. Dean Heller that he thinks Facebook would be more responsible with people’s data than the federal government.

5:50: Zuckerberg claims Facebook deletes a user’s data if they delete their account. Zuckerberg says they have “a lot of complex systems” and the company tries to delete the data in a reasonable amount of time.

5:45: 2020: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a potential 2020 candidate, using his five minutes to ask Zuckerberg about racial discrimination. Booker says a lot of civil rights groups have met with Zuckerberg to deal with a lack of diversity in the tech sector (yet, these civil rights groups, along with Booker, usually want more H1-b visas and more cheap foreign labor for the tech industry.) Booker says it is disturbing that law enforcement organizations have used Facebook to “surveil” African-American organizations like Black Lives Matter. Booker doesn’t want people to use Facebook to “unfairly surveil” or “undermine” the activity of the activists. Zuckerberg says “we are going to push back against that across the board” unless law enforcement has a subpoena. Booker also wants answers about why Facebook wanted a racial discrimination lawsuit against its company dismissed.

Flashback: Zuckerberg teamed up with Booker and pledged $100 million to rebuild Newark’s school system.

The result: “Everybody’s getting paid, but Raheem still can’t read.”

5:32: Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) asks if Zuckerberg is angry that Cambridge Analytica “hijacked” the platform. Zuckerberg repeating his remarks about the fake news “arms race” and can’t guarantee the platform will be free of Russian “fake news” meant to influence elections.

5:30: Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) says that every lobbyist in town seems to be involved in this hearing as Facebook is reportedly looking to hire even more Swamp lobbyists. Sullivan asks if Facebook is a tech company or a publisher. Zuckerberg says he views Facebook as a “tech company” because they have engineers and build products. Zuckerberg again says he is responsible for the content but Facebook doesn’t choose the content.

5:22: Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) makes it all about immigration and asks whether Facebook will help ICE with “extreme vetting” to determine which immigrants will positively contribute society. Zuckerberg says they will not proactively share data with the Trump administration and will only work with law enforcement if they fear “imminent harm” or if law enforcement reaches out to them for data.

5:15: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) allows Zuckerberg to use his time to elaborate more about what Facebook is doing in Myanmar to prevent groups from using his platform to spread hate. Zuckerberg talks up “news literacy” and “fact-checking of content.” Zuckerberg again talks about investing in AI to root out “harmful content.”

5:05: Sen. Sasse (D-NE) asks Zuckerberg to define “hate speech.” Zuckerberg says that’s a tough question. They talk about kids addicted to social media, and Zuckerberg denies his companies hires consultants that provide “dopamine feedback loop” information to get people more hooked to the site.

5:00: Zuckerberg says Facebook is investing in AI technologies to proactively flag “hate” speech and they will have more tools to flag content it deems inappropriate in 5-10 years. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) grilled Zuckerberg about allowing advertisers in real estate to exclude recipients based on race.

4:52: Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) asking Zuckerberg about what types of data Facebook stores. He says Facebook, with people’s permission, stores some private messages and location of devices.

4:50: Zuckerberg stumbling after Sen. Schatz (D-HI) asks if his messages in WhatsApp influences the advertising he will get on other Facebook properties. Zuckerberg says Facebook systems do not see WhatsApp messages because they are encrypted.

4:40: Sen. Lee (R-UT) asking Zuckerberg about whether it should not be putting its thumb on the scale re: content. Zuckerberg says there are two categories of content they are fearful of. The first is content that could cause real-world harm–terrorism, election interference, self-harm, etc… Lee now getting to viewpoint bias. Zuckerberg says that in order to create a service where everyone has a voice, Facebook has to make sure people are not bullied and everyone feels safe. Lee grilling Zuckerberg about putting a thumb on the scale re: viewpoints. Zuckerberg giving canned answers about wanting all types of expression.

Lee asks whether there is a free-market incentive to safeguard the data of its users. When asked if he has the technological means to ensure data privacy, Zuckerberg says the company mostly does.

4:35: Zuckerberg wants to clarify his response re: Cambridge Analytica to Leahy’s question. After meeting with his team, he says he made a mistake in not banning Cambridge Analytica in 2015 when it was in fact an advertiser. He then tells Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) that Cambridge Analytica’s Kogan has been banned.

4:30: Zuckerberg sitting on 4-inch cushion:

4:15: Sen. Cruz (R-TX) asks Zuckerberg whether Facebook is a neutral public forum. Zuckerberg says there is content it will not allow–“hate speech,” “terrorist content,” and “nudity.” Zuckerberg claims his goal is to not engage in political speech and claims ignorance of the law. Cruz, who got Zuckerberg to admit that Silicon Valley is very left-wing, says Americans are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in political bias.

Zuckerberg said he is not aware of any ad or page from Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org or any Democrat that has been taken down. Cruz blasts Facebook for flagging Diamond and Silk’s Facebook page as one that was “unsafe” to the community.  Zuckerberg says he doesn’t make employment decisions based on political views. Zuckerberg can’t answer how many people who review content on Facebook have supported a Republican candidate for office. When asked about why Palmer Luckey was fired, Zuckerberg claim it was not because of politics.

Zuckerberg claims he is committed that Facebook be open to all ideas.

4:10: Sen. Blumenthal (D-NJ) accuses Zuckerberg of “willful blindness” for not having seen the terms of service that Cambridge Analytica used to pull data.

4:00: Durbin asks Zuckerberg if he would like to reveal which hotel he stayed in last night. After Zuckerberg says “no,” Durbin says this is what the hearing is about.

3:55: Zuckerberg punting on whether Facebook does cross-device crisis. Zuckerberg able to squirm out because Senators lack the ability to grill him in plain English. Perhaps Zuckerberg should look on his own site re: cross-device tracking.

3:50: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) says we need rules and regulations re: privacy that are as “brilliant” as Facebook’s products.

3:42: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asks Facebook if it has competitors. Zuckerberg says there are at least eight other social-media apps people use and denies that Facebook has a monopoly. Zuckerberg says the question is not whether there should be regulation but whether the regulation is right. He says his team will propose some regulations. Five minutes are almost up….Graham now asking about Facebook’s terms of service and whether the average consumer understands what they are signing up for. Zuckerberg says he doesn’t think the average person reads that document. During questioning with Graham, Zuckerberg is able to nicely plug that people come to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp 100 billion times a day.

3:37: Zuckerberg says Sen. Leahy (D-VT) that some Facebook employees are working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He said he wanted to “clarify” after first saying that some Facebook employees had met with Mueller after they had been subpoenaed.

Leahy now grilling Zuckerberg about Facebook role in Myanmar’s Royinga crisis. He now asks about Chinese censorship before his time expires.

3:35: Somehow, during Sen. Roger Wicker’s (R-MS), Zuckerberg was able to make a case for net neutrality.

3:26: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) makes a joke about how some think Palantir is “Stanford Analytica” that falls flat. Zuckerberg claims he does not know what “total information awareness” is when Cantwell asks. He says he has no idea if Palantir scrapped data. Zuckerberg says we have “different sensibilities here” than European countries when asked if Facebook should be regulated like it is in Europe.

3:21: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) says today’s hearing is like the Microsoft hearings in the 1990s. Hatch asks Zuckerberg if Facebook will always be free… enabling Zuckerberg to run out the clock. After Zuckerberg says there will always be a version of Facebook that is free, Hatch, who only has five minutes, asks how that is possible.

Zuckerberg’s response: “Senator, we run ads.”

3:16: Feinstein is all about Russia. She asks Zuckerberg what the company is doing to prevent foreign actors from interfering in elections. Zuckerberg says he regrets he was late identifying Russians who spread fake news. Zuckerberg cites Democrat Doug Jones victory in Alabama’s special election when he speaks about how Facebook has done a “better job” re: elections. He also cites the French and German elections.

3:12: Zuckerberg says it’s not enough just to build tools to allow people to communicate. He talks about “fake news and foreign interference in elections” and says Facebook needs to be “more proactive in policing the ecosystem.” He says there has been a “broad philosophical shift” at Facebook. Zuckerberg says they have now AI tools that can proactively flag bad content on the social-media platform. He says “hate speech” is one of the hardest to proactively police because determining if something is hate speech is very “linguistically nuanced.”

3:00: Zuckerberg tells Grassley Facebook will be investigating tens of thousands of apps. He doesn’t have specifics re: how many other apps may have improperly accessed user data.

2:55: Zuckerberg just reading from his prepared testimony:

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. Just recently, we’ve seen the #metoo movement and the March for Our Lives, organized, at least in part, on Facebook. After Hurricane Harvey, people raised more than $20 million for relief. And more than 70 million small businesses now use Facebook to grow and create jobs.

But it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for 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. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.

https://twitter.com/carney/status/983782129040527360

2:50: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) says Congress will have to fix the “privacy invasion” problem if Facebook does not fix it.

2:45: Sen. Grassley (R-IA) finally mentions the former Obama administration digital official (Carol Davidsen) who revealed that Facebook allowed Team Obama to scrape and suck massive amounts of data because they were on the same side. The Obama campaign was praised back then for its digital savvy and there were no calls for Zuckerberg to testify before Congress after Obama won in 2012. Zuckerberg still has not spoken.

2:40: Feinstein talks about foreign actors who are abusing social-media platforms like Facebook to interfere in elections and take personal data. Some on the left are mocking Feinstein for being concerned now about privacy. She immediately talks about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Russians who engaged in fake news campaigns that she claims hurt Hillary Clinton and then goes on to talk about Cambridge Analytica.

2:35: Thune says this hearing is an opportunity for Zuckerberg to speak to those who believe in Facebook and those who are skeptical. Nothing on Facebook’s ability to prop up favored news outlets.

2:30: Zuckerberg arrives. Sen. Grassley (R-IA) says time limits will be strictly enforced and there will not be a second round.

2:27: Senators now taking their seats for the Zuckerberg hearing

2:25:

2:23: Palin blasts GOP establishment leadership:

2:20: CNBC’s Julia Boorstin reports that Zuckerberg arrived through the garage-area and was able to avoid the horde of reporters who have been staking him out before he testifies.

2:19: What would a Congressional hearing be without Code Pink?

2:10 PM: Zuckerberg wants to make Facebook a “positive force in the world.”

2:00 PM: Zuckerberg has been coached up and reportedly prepared for his testimony–murder boards and all–as if it were a presidential debate. The Washington Post also reported that Zuckerberg has “expressed worries, sometimes in jest, about the government shutting down Facebook one day.”

1:57: Hours before Zuckerberg’s testimony, Twitter announces its support for the Honest Ads Act:

1:55 PM: Breitbart’s Bokhari’s four questions that lawmakers must ask Zuckerberg:

1) Did Facebook violate federal campaign laws by allowing the Obama campaign to harvest user data in 2012?

2) Is Facebook still engaged in political favoritism?

3) Is Facebook now a publisher or a neutral platform?

4) Who’s really in charge — the users, or Facebook?

Read more here to find out why it is critical for lawmakers to ask these questions.

.