Facebook experts weigh in on scandal before Zuckerberg testimony

Mark Zuckerberg refuses to say if Facebook tracks you after you log out

On Tuesday, the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, will be testifying before USA lawmakers to explain what happened with the information harvested by Cambridge Analytica.

President, founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a Reuters interview at the University of Bogota January 14, 2015.

In prepared remarks released by a House committee, Zuckerberg said the company has notified all users affected in the scandal.

A Facebook spokesperson said a possible breach of data of 562,455 users happened after 335 Facebook users in India installed a quiz app, "thisisyourdigitallife" between November 2013 and December 2015.

Facebook is presenting itself to lawmakers as an idealistic company that was too naive to anticipate how bad actors might exploit its platform, echoing remarks Zuckerberg made last week.

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake", Zuckerberg will say.

The Menlo Park, Calif., firm also unveiled a proposal to support academics who are researching the role that social media plays in democratic elections, including an independent peer-review process to oversee how scholars access "privacy-protected" data about Facebook users. In the beginning, it was reported the political consultancy firm had come in possession of data from 50 million Facebook accounts.

A day before the hearings, a suit-clad Zuckerberg sought to make the rounds on Capitol Hill, huddling with the very lawmakers who planned to grill him.

"We're going to do audits and, yes, we think it's possible", Sandberg said. "And if we find that someone is improperly using data, we'll ban them and tell everyone affected". Though it only takes one Facebook user to expose their friends' data, users have since been encouraged to change their privacy and advertisement settings.


Also suspended was US-based data analysis firm Cubeyou, following reports it had harvested user data from psychological testing apps for commercial purposes. Facebook's share price has dropped almost 15 per cent since news of Cambridge Analytica came to light in mid-March.

"We organised "get out the vote" efforts that helped more than 2 million people register to vote who might not have voted otherwise", Zuckerberg says. According to Zuckerberg, the committee would work with United States foundations and a committee of academic experts to come up with research topics and select independent researchers to study them. If Facebook does not know, then why not?

The April 10 appearance-under the title Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data-will be streamed on the Judiciary's website.

"The focus will be entirely forward looking. And our goals are to understand Facebook's impact on upcoming elections - like Brazil, India, Mexico and the U.S. midterms - and to inform our future product and policy decisions", Facebook said in a statement. This has raised concerns about how the company safeguards the privacy of its users.

In typical Facebook fashion, there's no simple button you can click to see if your data was stolen.

"Facebook is not an innocent bystander to these crimes", said Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center.

He is also expected to announce that the company is establishing an independent election research commission that will look into the effects of social media on elections and democracy.

"Users provide every detail of their life to Facebook", Wozniak told USA Today.

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