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Zuckerberg Protects His Privacy at Senate Hearing, Refuses to Reveal D.C. Hotel, Messages Sent

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

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) came out swinging when it was his turn to question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a joint Senate judiciary and commerce hearing on Tuesday about the social network allowing some 87 million users data to be harvested.

“Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel where you stayed in last night?” Durbin asked.

“Ah, no,” Zuckerberg responded.

“If you’ve messaged anyone this week would you share with us the names of the people you’ve messaged?” Durbin asked.

“Senator, no, I would probably not chose to do that publicly here,” Zuckerberg said.

“I think maybe that’s what this is all about — your right to privacy, the limits of your right to privacy and how much you give away in modern America in the name of — quote ‘connecting people around the world,’” Durbin said.

“The question, basically, of what information Facebook’s collecting, who they’re sending it to and whether they would ask me in advance my permission to do that,” Durbin said. “Is that a fair thing for a user of Facebook to expect?”

Zuckerberg claimed that users could control who has access to their data on Facebook, despite the Cambridge Analytica scandal that led to millions of users data to be compromised.

“So the most important way that this happens across our services is that every day people come to our services to share photos or send messages and every single time they chose to share something they have a control right there about who they want to share it with,” Zuckerberg said. “That level of control is extremely important.”

“They certainly know within the Facebook pages who their friends are but they may not know and as has happened as you conceded at this point in the past that sometimes that information is going way beyond their friends and sometimes people have made money off of sharing that information, correct?” Durbin asked.

Zuckerberg did not answer the question directly but offered to explain how the “development platform” portion of Facebook works.

Durbin said because his time was limited he would rather have Zuckerberg provide that information “for the record.”

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg will testify in the House.

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