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Zuckerberg calls Facebook’s handling of Russia meddling ‘one of my greatest regrets’

Facebook critics demonstrate ahead of Zuckerberg hearing with sea of cutouts

Wearing costumes and displaying life-size images of Mark Zuckerberg, demonstrators gathered on Capitol Hill on Wednesday calling on Facebook's CEO to fix the social media site.
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Wearing costumes and displaying life-size images of Mark Zuckerberg, demonstrators gathered on Capitol Hill on Wednesday calling on Facebook's CEO to fix the social media site.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called his company’s handling of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election “one of my greatest regrets in running the company.”

“We expected them to do a number of more traditional cyberattacks, which we did identify and notified the campaigns that they were trying to hack into them,” he said, “but we were slow in identifying the type of new information operations.”

He also confirmed that Facebook is working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, but added that “I’m not sure we have subpoenas.”

Zuckerberg is testifying Tuesday before the U.S. Congress amid reports that a political firm with ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign improperly accessed data from millions of users on the social media platform.

It’s the first time that Zuckerberg has ever appeared before Congress, according to CNN. He answered questions about Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that obtained the information of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge, and how his social media platform is working to prevent future foreign interference in elections.

You can watch the hearing with the video link below.

Zuckerberg began by saying he’s “sorry” for the breach of user data. Facebook estimates that up to 87 million people unknowingly had their information compromised by Cambridge Analytica.

He said that “we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure they are used for good.”

“It’s not enough to just connect people,” Zuckerberg said. “We have to make sure those connections are positive.”

The CEO said his company is “getting to the bottom” of what Cambridge Analytica did and working to restrict the amount of data third party developers can see in the future. Christopher Wylie, a former employee of the firm, told CNN that the number of those with compromised data “could be higher, absolutely” than the reported 87 million.

He disagreed with Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s assertion that Facebook exercised “willful blindness” in violation of the Federal Trade Commission consent decree, which requires Facebook to identify and address emerging threats to user privacy, former FTC officials told the Washington Post.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa asked Zuckerberg whether he knew of any other instances when a third party breached user data on Facebook. Zuckerberg said that his company is reviewing “tens of thousands of apps” and that the company will notify users if anything is discovered.

Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz grilled Zuckerberg over a Gizmodo report that said workers at the company censored conservative views on the platform. Zuckerberg responded by saying he’s committed to making sure Facebook is “a platform for all ideas.”

“I try to make sure we don’t have any bias in the work that we do,” he said.

When asked by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida if Facebook is considering charging people to not use their data, Zuckerberg said not at the moment.

“To be clear, we don’t offer an option today for people to pay not to show ads,” Zuckerberg said. “We think offering an ad-supported service is most aligned with our mission of trying to connect everyone in the world because we want to offer a free service that everyone can afford.”

He added that Facebook already allows users to prevent their data from being used for targeted ads, but that there’s been an “overwhelming feedback” supporting them.

“Even though some people don’t like ads,” he said, “people really don’t like ads that aren’t relevant.”

The 33-year-old social media pioneer will make a stop at the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Facebook created a page that you can visit to check if your information was compromised by Cambridge Analytica.

Sixty-three percent of people say that their Facebook information is “unsafe, given to those you don’t choose,” according to a new survey from CBS News/YouGov. At least 60 percent of people said they have “not much/none” confidence in Facebook’s ability to either protect their personal data, prevent fake accounts or prevent disinformation.

Meanwhile, an Axios/SurveyMonkey poll from March found a 28 point drop in those who had a favorable view of Facebook in October. That means just 48 percent of people had a positive opinion of the platform, while 43 percent were the opposite.

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