Overnight Tech: High-stakes test for Zuckerberg | Intends to apologize to Congress | Facebook pushed to expand new EU privacy rules | Feds indict Backpage execs

Overnight Tech: High-stakes test for Zuckerberg | Intends to apologize to Congress | Facebook pushed to expand new EU privacy rules | Feds indict Backpage execs
© Greg Nash

Zuckerberg enters the lion's den: It's a big week for Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFight looms over national privacy law Facebook teaming with nonprofits to fight fake election news China may be copying Facebook to build an intelligence weapon MORE who is facing the toughest political test of his career. The stakes are high as he testifies before the House and Senate this week over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and the steps his company is taking to better protect users' privacy.


Here are Monday's key developments...

--Meet and greet: Zuckerberg made the rounds with Senate leaders on Monday ahead of his hotly anticipated testimony Tuesday before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees. Among those he visited with were Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGoogle says it continues to allow apps to access Gmail user data Fight looms over national privacy law Want to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches MORE (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Feinstein calls for hold on Kavanaugh consideration Grassley releases letter detailing Kavanaugh sexual assault allegation MORE (R-Iowa), chair of the Judiciary Committee, Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGillibrand calls for Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn Feinstein calls for hold on Kavanaugh consideration Grassley releases letter detailing Kavanaugh sexual assault allegation MORE (D-Calif.), ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNelson campaign to donate K from Al Franken group to charity Political shenanigans mask true problems in Puerto Rico The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE (D-Fla.) the top Dem on the Commerce Committee.

-- Mea culpa: He'll also testify in front of the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday. That panel released Zuckerberg's written testimony today, in which he apologized to Congress.

Key quote: "We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake," Zuckerberg plans to say. "It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here."

--Business on trial: Zuckerberg is expected to push back on questions about whether the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other issues at Facebook highlight a problem with the company's very business model.

Critics say that the company relies on exploiting users' personal information in order to generate ad revenue, but Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg argue that its targeted ads benefit consumers by showing them services that they'll find relevant.

Key quote: "My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together," Zuckerberg's statement reads. "Advertisers and developers will never take priority over that as long as I'm running Facebook."

--Facebook shut down Russian accounts: Zuckerberg also revealed in his prepared testimony that Facebook had booted a group of accounts in 2016 suspected of having ties with Russian espionage operations.

He will testify that the accounts "created fake personas that were used to seed stolen information to journalists" under the name of DCLeaks -- the website that published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

--Does Cambridge Analytica have your data? Facebook plans to notify the estimated 87 million of its users whose data may have been acquired by Cambridge Analytica, The Associated Press reported Monday.

The social media company will send messages to the potentially affected users beginning Monday, while every Facebook user will get a "Protecting Your Information" notification.

--Fashion notes: Zuckerberg was also spotted walking around the Capitol in a suit Monday. That should please President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE's chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, who mocked the Facebook exec's normally casual style earlier in the day. Kudlow advised Zuckerberg to take the hearing seriously by not wearing "hoodies and dungarees."

--ICYMI: The New York Times interviewed some of the people swept up in the Cambridge Analytica leak. And in an interview with The Atlantic, Zuckerberg said he is not leaving and intends to work through changes.


--For more on the high stakes for Zuckerberg's first testimony before Congress, click here.

And click here to read his full testimony.

Also, check back at TheHill.com Tuesday morning for five things to watch in Zuckerberg's testimony.


Please send your tips, comments and Masters reaction 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.


And in some non-Facebook news... Feds charge Backpage execs: The Justice Department on Monday announced dozens of prostitution and money laundering charges against Backpage.com executives. The 94-count indictment was unsealed days after feds seized the classified ads site.

"For far too long, Backpage.com existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike," Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump distances himself from Rosenstein by saying Sessions hired him Gowdy: Declassified documents unlikely to change anyone's mind on Russia investigation Pompeo on Rosenstein bombshell: Maybe you just ought to find something else to do if you can't be on the team MORE said in a statement. "But this illegality stops right now. Last Friday, the Department of Justice seized Backpage, and it can no longer be used by criminals to promote and facilitate human trafficking."

--Backstory: Backpage was the catalyst for the online sex trafficking bill that Congress passed this year and is awaiting President Trump's signature.


Calls for FTC to probe YouTube: Consumer and privacy groups filed a complaint with the FTC against Google alleging that YouTube is violating children's privacy.

"Google profits handsomely from selling advertising to kid-directed programs that it packages," said Center for Digital Democracy Director Jeff Chester.

"It makes deals with producers and distributors of kids' online programs worldwide. Google has built a global and very lucrative business based on kids' deep connections to YouTube."


OK, back to Facebook... Groups push Facebook to extend new privacy rules globally: A coalition of consumer groups in the U.S. and Europe wrote to Mark Zuckerberg on Monday asking that he offer privacy protections to Facebook users around the world that will soon be required by EU law.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect May 25 and will require websites to be more transparent about their data policies and give users greater control over their personal information.

"There is simply no reason for your company to provide less than the best legal standards currently available to protect the privacy of Facebook users," reads the letter from the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue.

Zuckerberg told reporters last week that Facebook will offer new privacy controls to all of its users, not just those in Europe, but advocates want him to affirm that commitment. The ACLU sent a letter to Congress today asking lawmakers to follow up during this week's hearings.

-ICYMI, read Harper's story on how tech giants are scrambling to comply with the sweeping new privacy law.


Facebook to study social media impact on elections: As one of the changes it is promoting ahead of Zuckerberg's testimony, Facebook said that it was launching a project to study social media's impact on the 2016 election.

The goal of the new independent commission is "both to get the ideas of leading academics on how to address [election interference and misinformation] as well as to hold us accountable for making sure we protect the integrity of these elections on Facebook," Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Monday.

--Big name backers... The new initiative will receive funding from several groups, including the conservative Charles Koch Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.


More Facebook: Ouch. Influential Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on Monday said he was deleting his Facebook account. "Apple makes its money off of good products, not off of you," the Woz told USA Today. "As they say, with Facebook, you are the product."

It's only the latest shot from Team Apple at Facebook.


The largest pro-Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was actually a scam tied to a white man in Australia, CNN reported on Monday.


Longread of the day: Who is Uber's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi? The New Yorker takes a deeper look into the former Expedia CEO and where he wants to take Uber in the wake former CEO Travis Kalanick's missteps.



It's the big one... The Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees will hold a joint hearing where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify at 2:15 p.m.



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