Zuckerberg: Mistakes, yes. Solutions, yes. Resignation, no | tech | Hindustan Times
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Zuckerberg: Mistakes, yes. Solutions, yes. Resignation, no

Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly said unsatisfied Facebook members can adjust their privacy settings — or delete their accounts. But even he acknowledged limits on what he’s willing to share.

tech Updated: Apr 11, 2018 08:25 IST
Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC.(AFP Photo)

Here’s what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted 44 senators to know about the scandal in which Cambridge Analytica used the massive social platform to access 87 million users: He made mistakes. Facebook’s mission is to “help people connect.” And no, he’s not resigning.

“Founded Facebook. My decisions. I made mistakes. Big challenge but we’ve solved problems before,” read Zuckerberg’s notes, which he left sitting on his desk during a break in testimony to the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees. “Going to solve this one.”

Not so fast, the much-older senators told Zuckerberg, 33, who was perched atop a seat pillow for the much-anticipated hearing into whether and how the breach affected the 2016 elections. They peppered him with questions about an array of Facebook’s lengthy privacy policy and data, but didn’t always seem to know how to follow up Zuckerberg’s talk of algorithms and AI systems. So one member of the joint committee, average age 62, got to the point.

“I just don’t feel like we’re connecting,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told Zuckerberg in hour four of the hearing. “Your user agreement sucks.”

This time, there was no flop sweat, perhaps because the senators spent most of the first of two days of hearings reading questions for Zuckerberg on privacy issues rather than attacking him as expected on broader matters such as Russia’s role in election meddling. It wasn’t as if senators could forget about the Russian meddling. Multiple investigations are probing the interference. Besides, someone dressed as a Russian troll watched from the audience wearing a pointy, blue-and-green wig.

Zuckerberg repeatedly said unsatisfied Facebook members can adjust their privacy settings — or delete their accounts. But even he acknowledged limits on what he’s willing to share.

“Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?” asked Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat.

“Um ... no,” Zuckerberg said after pausing, then smiled as the room laughed. And no, he said to Durbin’s next question, he’d probably choose not to share the names of people he’s messaged.

“I think that maybe is what this is all about,” Durbin said. “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.’“

Twitter widely noted the apparent age or knowledge gap between Zuckerberg and the senators.

“Wrap it up, Grandpa Grassley,” tweeted one user to the Judiciary Committee chairman, who was deep into his first term in the Senate when Zuckerberg was born in 1984.

Some senators of a certain age utilized posters to illustrate their questions, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who’s served in the Senate since 1975. He asked Zuckerberg about hate speech, in places like Myanmar.

“What’s happening in Myanmar is a terrible tragedy,” Zuckerberg answered.

“We all agree with that,” Leahy snapped.