Overnight Tech: Zuckerberg grilled by lawmakers over data scandal | What we learned from marathon hearing | Facebook hit with class action lawsuit | Twitter endorses political ad disclosure bill | Uber buys bike share

Overnight Tech: Zuckerberg grilled by lawmakers over data scandal | What we learned from marathon hearing | Facebook hit with class action lawsuit | Twitter endorses political ad disclosure bill | Uber buys bike share
© Greg Nash

ZUCKERBERG ON THE HILL: Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHow tech reached a breaking point with Infowars Why we should not want Facebook, or any online platform, to ‘save’ us from Alex Jones Don't let Big Tech become Big Brother MORE testified for the first time before Congress Tuesday facing lawmakers during a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees.

Senators grilled him on the controversy surrounding Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President TrumpDonald John TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report MORE that Facebook says improperly harvested data on as many as 87 million users for political targeting, and other issues facing the platform like Russian election meddling.

It was a make-or-break moment for Zuckerberg with the eyes of the tech and political worlds on the blockbuster hearing.

 

Here are some key moments:

 

Zuckerberg says he's sorry: "It's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm," Zuckerberg said.

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"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," he continued.

"It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here."

More on that here.

 

Zuckerberg says Mueller has interviewed Facebook employees: Zuckerberg told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that special counsel Robert Mueller has interviewed Facebook employees as part of his investigation into Russian interference.

The Facebook CEO also said he "believes" the company may have been served with a subpoena from the special counsel's office.

"I want to be careful here because our work with the special counsel is confidential," Zuckerberg said Tuesday. "I know that we are working with them."

 

 

Facebook stock soared during testimony: Wall Street reacted favorably to Zuckerberg's performance on Tuesday. Facebook shares closed up 4.5 percent on Tuesday during Zuckerberg's testimony, rallying to their highest points on the day, during his hearing.

 

Zuckerberg downplayed Facebook being a monopoly: "It certainly doesn't feel like that to me," Zuckerberg said, responding to Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhite House staff offered discounts at Trump's NJ golf club: report Graham: DOJ official was 'unethical' in investigating Trump campaign because his wife worked for Fusion GPS Sunday shows preview: Virginia lawmakers talk Charlottesville, anniversary protests MORE's (R-S.C.) questioning if Facebook is a monopoly.

Graham expressed skepticism, noting that greater competition could alleviate the need for the government to regulate the company. He also said that users may not have many alternatives to Facebook.

 

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz challenger O'Rourke launching .27M TV ad buy focusing on 'positive' message Neo-Nazis hope to leverage Alex Jones controversies one year after Charlottesville violence Texas brewery makes 'Beto Beer' for Democratic Senate candidate MORE (R-Texas) and Zuckerberg battle: "There are a great many Americans who I would say are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship," Cruz said, raising concerns about unfair treatment of conservative speech.

Zuckerberg responded to the charge by insisting that Facebook is a "platform for all ideas," but acknowledged that it's based and influenced by the culture of left-leaning Silicon Valley.

More on the exchange here.

 

Facebook didn't notify FTC about Cambridge Analytica data scandal: When asked by Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonHillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down Jimmy Buffett endorses Dem in Florida governor race The Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to New York to shore-up GOP districts MORE (D-Fla.) whether he thought Facebook had an "ethical obligation" to notify users whose data had been accessed, Zuckerberg reiterated that the company considered it a "closed case" in 2015.

"We considered it a closed case," Zuckerberg said. "In retrospect, that was a mistake."

 

'Your user agreement sucks': Zuckerberg also received a scolding from Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) who argued Facebook's user agreement was too complicated for the average American to know what they were signing up for.

"Here's what everybody's been trying to tell you today and I say this gently," Kennedy said. "Your user agreement sucks. The purpose of that user agreement is to cover Facebook's rear end, it's not to inform users of their rights."

More on that exchange here.

 

Tuesday was only day one. On Wednesday, Zuckerberg goes before a House committee for another round of tough questions.

 

Please send your tips, comments and Patrick Reed praise to Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and Harper Neidig (hneidig@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @alibreland and @hneidig. We're also on Signal and WhatsApp. Email or DM us for our numbers.

 

We're not done with Facebook news yet...

 

CARDBOARD ZUCKS: The hearing dominated much of Washington's attention. Even before it began, an advocacy group called Avaaz placed dozens of cardboard cutouts of Zuckerberg on the Capitol lawn.

"The group is calling on the CEO to ban all bots, alert the public any and every time users see fake or disinformation, fund fact checkers around the world, and submit to an independent audit to review the scale and scope of fake news," Avaaz said in a press release.

The cardboard look-alikes wore shirts that read, "Fix Fakebook."

Click here for a look at the (creepy) cutouts.

 

FACEBOOK, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA HIT WITH CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT: A group of Facebook users who were unwittingly swept up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal also filed a class action lawsuit against the two companies on Tuesday ahead of Zuckerberg's testimony.

"Facebook has made billions of dollars selling advertisements targeted to its customers, and in this instance made millions selling advertisements to political campaigns that developed those very ads on the back of their customers' own stolen personal information," Richard Fields, one of the attorneys for the defendants, said in a statement. "That's unacceptable, and they must be held accountable."

The seven plaintiffs were among the 87 million Facebook users whose data was handed over to Cambridge Analytica without their knowledge or consent.

Facebook's response: "We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information," Paul Grewal, Facebook's deputy general counsel, said in a statement. "We will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens."

 

TWITTER ENDORSES HONEST ADS ACT: Twitter on Tuesday backed a bill that would require greater transparency around online political ads.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down House Intel lawmakers introduce bipartisan election security bill Election Countdown: Takeaways from too-close-to-call Ohio special election | Trump endorsements cement power but come with risks | GOP leader's race now rated as 'toss-up' | Record numbers of women nominated | Latino candidates get prominent role in 2020 MORE (D-Minn.), one of the architects of the Honest Ads Act, hailed the news.

"@Twitter just joined @Facebook and announced support of my bill to require social media companies to post paid political ads and require disclaimers. We need to hold tech companies to same rules as everyone else. #HonestAdsAct #Progress Need to hear from @google," Klobuchar wrote on Twitter.

Facebook has also backed the legislation, and Democrats urged Zuckerberg on Tuesday to promote it.

 

UBER TO BUY BIKE-SHARING COMPANY: Uber announced Tuesday that it's acquiring JUMP, a bike-sharing company that operates in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.

"We're committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app--so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you're going, whether that's in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway, or more," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a blog post.

 

REDDIT FOUND NEARLY 1,000 RUSSIA-LINKED ACCOUNTS: Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said on Tuesday that the company had found 944 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm alleged to have waged a disinformation campaign ahead of the 2016 election.

In a post, Huffman said that few of the accounts "had a visible impact on the site."

From the announcement:

  • 70% (662) had zero karma
  • 1% (8) had negative karma
  • 22% (203) had 1-999 karma
  • 6% (58) had 1,000-9,999 karma
  • 1% (13) had a karma score of 10,000+

 

LONGREAD OF THE DAY: All eyes are Facebook's woes with Cambridge Analytica with Zuckerberg testifying. But Facebook is also in hot water for some of its practices abroad. BuzzFeed details how Facebook is being used to incite violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka.

 

ON TAP:

Zuckerberg's none done yet. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing with the Facebook CEO testifying at 10:00 a.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Bloomberg: There's a reason as to why Instagram has been able to avoid Facebook's controversy

Reuters: Senate plans future hearing on Cambridge Analytica and other firms

The Guardian: YouTube hackers target music videos by artists including Taylor Swift and Drake

WSJ: Theranos lays off most of its remaining workforce

Op-ed: Facebook's trials are just beginning