Live coverage: Zuckerberg faces second day on Capitol Hill

Mark Zuckerberg will face his second day of testimony before lawmakers in Washington on Wednesday when he appears before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Facebook CEO held his own during a lengthy Senate hearing on Tuesday, the first time the head of the nation’s largest social media company has  appeared before a congressional panel.

The 33-year-old Zuckerberg emerged largely unscathed despite sometimes-aggressive questioning from lawmakers that went well beyond the Cambridge Analytica controversy that sparked the appearance to issues including data privacy and perceived bias against conservatives on the social media platform.


Follow The Hill's live coverage throughout the day Wednesday below.

Walden gavels out

3:05 p.m.

Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHere are the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the Equality Act Lobbying world Bottom line MORE (R-Ore.) concluded the hearing Wednesday afternoon after roughly five hours, thanking Zuckerberg for his testimony. 

“I suppose you don’t want to hang around for another round of questions,” Walden joked. “Your staff — several of them just passed out behind you.”

“You have been respectful of our questions and we appreciate your answers and your candor,” he said. 

Walden noted that some lawmakers are expected to submit further questions to be answered in writing, asking that Zuckerberg reply to them in a “timely manner.” 


The chairman also asked Zuckerberg to suggest other tech executives that the committee could invite to testify on data privacy and other issues, like net neutrality.

Morgan Chalfant

GOP rep offers Zuckerberg a copy of the Constitution
2:50 pm
Rep. Jeff DuncanJeffrey (Jeff) Darren DuncanREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Here are the Republicans planning to challenge the Electoral College results Top GOP lawmakers call for Swalwell to be removed from Intelligence Committee MORE (R-S.C.) offered to give Zuckerberg a copy of the Constitution during his testimony Wednesday, suggesting that Facebook needs to better incorporate the First Amendment into its standards. 
"I've got a copy of the Constitution I want to give you at the end of this hearing," Duncan said to Zuckerberg. 
"Why not have a community standard for the free speech and free exercise of religion that is simply a mirror of the First Amendment, with algorithms that have a viewpoint that is neutral?" Duncan asked. 
"I think we can all agree that certain content like terrorist propaganda should have no place on our network, and the First Amendment, my understanding of it, is that is that kind of speech allowed in the world? I just don't think that is the kind of thing we want to be spread on the internet. So once you get into that ... you take this value of that you care about safety, and that we don't want people to be able to spread information that could cause harm," Zuckerberg responded. 
"Our general responsibility is to allow the broadest spectrum of free expression as we can," he added. 
Julia Manchester

Zuckerberg corrects earlier testimony on ads based on search history

2:16 p.m.

Zuckerberg resumed the third part of his testimony Wednesday with a correction of his earlier remarks.

He explained that the company does track browsing activity to deliver targeted ads but does not hold onto that data, so users can't retrieve it from their personal file.

"We only store them temporarily," he said, "and we convert the weblogs into a set of ad interests that you might be interested in those ads, and we put that in the 'download your information' [feature] and you have complete control over that."

"So I just wanted to clarify that for the record," he added.

"I appreciate that," Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) responded.

John Bowden

GOP rep presses Zuckerberg on 'Diamond and Silk'

1:31 p.m.

Rep. Billy LongWilliam (Billy) H. LongREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Missouri Rep. Billy Long wins GOP primary The Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks MORE (R-Mo.) conveyed a question from YouTube hosts Diamond and Silk to Zuckerberg during Wednesday's hearing.

"Do you recognize these folks?" Long asked, as an aide displayed a picture of the women.


"I do," Zuckerberg responded. "I believe, is that Diamond and Silk?"

"Their content was deemed by your folks to be 'unsafe,' " Long continued. "Diamond and Silk have a question for you, and that is, 'What is unsafe about two black women supporting President Donald J. Trump?' "

"Well congressman, nothing is unsafe about that," Zuckerberg responded, before being pressed by Long about how many conservative websites had been "pulled down" by his company's content moderators.

Long also questioned the Facebook CEO about "FaceMash," a website Zuckerberg created during his sophomore year at Harvard University that allowed students to view and rate pictures of female students. The website played a role in "The Social Network," a 2010 film about the creation of Facebook that Zuckerberg has criticized as inaccurate.

"What was FaceMash, and is it still up and running?" Long asked.

Zuckerberg characterized it as a "prank website."

"There was a movie about this ... of unclear truth," Zuckerberg said.


John Bowden

GOP rep grills Zuckerberg on opioid sales on Facebook

12:55 p.m.

Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) grilled Zuckerberg over opioid dealers using the social media giant to distribute drugs, saying the platform was hurting its users. 

"Your platform is still being used to circumvent the law, and allow people to buy highly addictive drugs without a prescription," McKinley told Zuckerberg. 

"With all due respect, Facebook is actually enabling an illegal activity and, in so doing, you are hurting people. Would you agree with that statement?" the congressman asked.

"I think that there are a number of areas of content that we need to do a better job policing on our service," Zuckerberg replied. 


"Today the primary way that content regulation works here ... is that people can share what they want on the service, and then if someone sees an issue they flag it to us, and then we will review it," he continued. 

McKinley went on to ask Zuckerberg why Facebook had not taken down posts for opioid markets on the website. 

"When are you going to take down these posts that are done with illegal, digital pharmacies?" the congressman said. 

"Right now when people report the posts to us, we will take them down and have people review," Zuckerberg said. 

"I agree that this is a terrible issue, and respectfully, when there are tens of billion pieces of content that are shared every day, even 20,000 people reviewing it can't look at everything," he continued. 

The exchange comes a week after Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called on social media platforms to eliminate the online opioid trade.

– Julia Manchester

Dem rep questions whether Facebook can continue to operate as a 'self-regulated' source of political discourse

12:32 p.m.

Rep. John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesEfforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Former Md. senator Paul Sarbanes dies at 87 Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? MORE (D-Md.) questioned whether Facebook can continue to operate in the way it has been until now, regulating itself.

“I think a lot of Americans are waking up to the fact that Facebook is becoming sort of a self-regulated superstructure for political discourse,” Sarbanes told Zuckerberg.

He suggested the crossroads of such a decision is quickly approaching: Will lawmakers need to decide how to monitor speech on the platform or will the company continue to control such matters?

“The question is, are we the people going to regulate our political dialogue or are you, Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergWarren's wealth tax would cost 100 richest Americans billion Who killed the California dream? If you think it was liberals, think again Facebook touts benefits of personalized ads in new campaign MORE, going to end up regulating the political discourse,” he continued. “We need to be free of that undue influence.”

Olivia Beavers

Zuckerberg defends ad targeting system

12:26 p.m.

Lawmakers of both parties have been voicing unease about Facebook's targeted ad system and how it profits off of users' aggregate data.

Zuckerberg offered a defense of the system after being pressed by Rep. Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieLawmakers debate role of prescription drugs and generics in health care costs The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending Overnight Health Care: New COVID-19 cases nationally drop below 100K for first time in 2021 | CDC warns states against lifting restrictions amid threat of virus variants | Health officials warn COVID-19 eradication unlikely MORE (R-Ky.) about what would happen if the company shifted away from using personal data to deliver tailored ads.

"For people using the services, it would make the ads less relevant to them," Zuckerberg said.

"For businesses, like the small businesses using advertising, it would make advertising more expensive because now they would have to pay more to reach more people and efficiently because targeting helps small businesses be able to afford and reach people as effectively as big companies who typically have the ability to do for a long time. It would affect our revenue, too.”

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has put the ad system in the spotlight in recent weeks.

Harper Neidig

Dem: Facebook has made it 'practically impossible' for Americans to remain untracked by companies

12:20 p.m.
"For all the benefit that Facebook has provided in building communities and connecting families, I think a devil's bargain has been struck," Castor said.
"In the end, Americans do not like to be manipulated. They do not like to be spied on. We don't like it when someone is outside of our home, watching."
She pressed Zuckerberg during the hearing on whether the company tracks Americans, even those who don't use the platform, by interacting with data brokers and recording where users log in.
The Facebook CEO disputed that he was in the business of gathering and aggregating data on how Americans live. 
"Congresswoman, I dispute that characterization," he said. "The primary way that Facebook works is, people choose to share data."
But Castor continued her line of questioning on what she said was Facebook's influence on privacy rights in America.
"But I think in the end ... It's practically impossible these days to remain untracked, in America," she said. "For all of the good Facebook and the internet's brought. And that's not part of the bargain."
John Bowden 

Zuckerberg distinguishes between Obama campaign, Cambridge Analytica cases

11:55 a.m.

Zuckerberg distinguished between the ways in which the Obama campaign and Cambridge Analytica used data from the survey app when questioned by Rep. Gregg HarperGregory (Gregg) Livingston HarperEthics watchdog: 'Substantial' evidence GOP lawmaker improperly spent funds, misused position to help brother Congress sends bill overhauling sexual harassment policy to Trump's desk Dems cry foul in undecided N.C. race MORE (R-Miss.).

Harper suggested that users should be equally outraged that the Obama campaign used the app to harvest data for political targeting in 2012 as they are with Cambridge Analytica.

However, Zuckerberg noted a key difference in the two cases.

Those who agreed to use the app built by the Obama campaign consented to their information being used by the campaign for political targeting, he said, while those who signed up with the app built by researcher Aleksandr Kogan did not know that it would be given to Cambridge Analytica.

“The big difference between these cases is that, in the Kogan case, people signed into that app expecting to share the data with Kogan, and then he turned around, in violation of our policies, and in violation of people’s expectations sold it to a third party firm, to Cambridge Analytica,” Zuckerberg said.

But, Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook has since realized it needed to adopt a “more restricted platform” so that Facebook users consenting to using an app give it access to only their information, not that of their friends.

“But that’s the way that the platform worked at the time,” Zuckerberg said.

– Morgan Chalfant

Butterfield pushes Zuckerberg on diversity

11:45 a.m.

Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldCBC 'unequivocally' endorses Shalanda Young for White House budget chief Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head Bickering Democrats return with divisions MORE (D-N.C.), a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, pressed Zuckerberg over the lack of diversity among employees at Facebook.

Though he said he was encouraged by the slight bump in African-American representation at the company, Butterfield noted that there are no black executives listed on Facebook's leadership page on its corporate website.

"This does not reflect America," Butterfield said while holding up a printout of the five-member leadership team.

Zuckerberg acknowledged the issue and promised that Facebook was taking it seriously.

"Congressman, this is an issue that we’re focused on," he said. "We will certainly work with you. This is an important issue."

Facebook appointed its first black board member in January, tapping American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault.

Harper Neidig

Dem rep. lists Zuckerberg's history of apologizing for mistakes with Facebook

11:40 a.m.

Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyHouse Democrats press Facebook on role as a 'breeding ground for polarization' Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs to testify at House hearing on misinformation Democrats introduce measure to boost privacy, security of health data during pandemic MORE (D-Ill.) began her line of questioning with Zuckerberg by listing his history of apologizing for matters that went awry with the social media platform.

“You have a long history of growth and success, but you also have a long list of apologies,” she said during a House hearing on Facebook’s transparency and data collection.

“In 2003 it started at Harvard. ‘I apologize for any harm done as a result of my neglect,’” she read.

She then listed off five other apologies Zuckerberg issued over the course of a decade, including his most recent one related to “the Russian manipulation of the election and the data that came from Facebook initially.”

“This is proof to me that self-regulation simply does not work,” she concluded before jumping into her questioning. 

– Olivia Beavers

Zuckerberg grilled on internal audits

11:37 a.m.

Pennsylvania Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleHouse Democrats press Facebook on role as a 'breeding ground for polarization' Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs to testify at House hearing on misinformation House panel to probe conspiracy theories in the news MORE (D), who chairs the Communications and Technology subcommittee, repeatedly questioned Zuckerberg over why lawmakers should trust Facebook to properly conduct an internal audit of third-party apps.

"I'm just concerned that despite this consent decree, Facebook allowed developers access to an unknown number of user profiles on Facebook for years," Doyle said.

"Potentially hundreds of millions," Doyle added. "Potentially more. And not only allowed, but partnered with individuals and app developers such as Alexander Kogan, who turned around and sold that data on the open market."

"It strikes me that there's a real trust gap here," Doyle concluded. "Why should we trust you to follow through on these promises when you have demonstrated repeatedly that you are willing to flout both your own internal policies and government oversight when the need suits you?"

"Congressman, respectfully, I disagree with that characterization," the Facebook chief responded.

Doyle went on to call for a regulatory agency to "protect the digital privacy and ensure companies protect our users' data."

– John Bowden

Zuckerberg says statement from Obama campaign staffer about special treatment from Facebook is inaccurate

11:30 a.m. 

Zuckerberg said that a statement from a former Obama campaign staffer saying the campaign got special treatment from the social media platform was false.

Zuckerberg was responding to questions from House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseBiden's COVID, border policies prove he's serious about neither Republican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC Merrick Garland is right to prioritize domestic terrorism, but he'll need a bigger boat MORE (R-La.) on the issue.

"One of the lead digital heads of the Obama campaign said recently, 'Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graf, but they didn't stop us once they realized what we were doing. They came to the office in the days after the election, recruiting, and were very candid that they allowed us to do things that they wouldn't have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side,'" Scalise said.

"We didn't allow the Obama campaign to do anything that any developer on the platform wouldn't have been otherwise been able to do," Zuckerberg responded.

"So she was making an inaccurate statement, in your point of view?" Scalise asked.

"Yes," Zuckerberg replied.

– Julia Manchester

Blackburn accuses Zuckerberg of ‘filibustering’

11:14 a.m. 

Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks Judiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy MORE (R-Tenn.) appeared to lose patience with Zuckerberg during her line of questioning, telling him she wouldn’t allow him to “filibuster” as she launched into a discussion about privacy legislation. 

“I can’t let you filibuster right now,” Blackburn said. She asked Zuckerberg whether he would help Congress pass legislation she and other House lawmakers are offering that would place restrictions on internet service providers and tech companies sharing browsing history.

Zuckerberg said he was not “directly familiar” with the details of the bill, called the Browser Act.

“Let’s get familiar with the details,” Blackburn said. “This is only thirteen pages.”

– Morgan Chalfant

Zuckerberg stands by commitment to extend GDPR around the world

11 a.m.

Zuckerberg is again promising to provide privacy protections for Facebook users around the world once a new European Union data law goes into effect next month.

The law will only apply to European countries, but privacy advocates have been urging Facebook to extend the changes that will be required to rest of the world. Rep. Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenBottom line Texas New Members 2019 Two Democrats become first Texas Latinas to serve in Congress MORE (D-Texas) asked the Facebook CEO to affirm the commitment he made last week.

"Yes, congressman, all the same controls will be available around the world," Zuckerberg said.

"We're going to put at the top of everyone's app when they sign in, a tool that walks people through the settings, and gives people the choices and asks them to make decisions on how they want their settings set," he added.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will go into effect on May 25 and will require internet firms to be more transparent about their data policies and give users more control over their own information.

– Harper Neidig

Zuckerberg says regulation ‘inevitable’ 

10:42 a.m.

Zuckerberg told Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonBiden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research Republicans, please save your party Democrats snipe on policy, GOP brawls over Trump MORE (R-Mich.) that some form of regulation on Facebook and other tech companies is “inevitable,” but stressed that there needs to be a careful discussion around what those rules may be 

“I think that it is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation,” Zuckerberg said. “My position is not that there should be no regulation, but I also think that you have to be careful about what regulation you put in place.”

Zuckerberg said, for instance, that some rules could be easy for large companies like Facebook to comply with, but more difficult for smaller start-ups with less resources to manage.

“I think these are all things that need to be thought through very carefully,” Zuckerberg said.

– Morgan Chalfant 

Dem lawmaker compares Facebook data collection to controversial FBI surveillance on civil rights activists

10:40 a.m. 

Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 House Democrats criticize Texas's 'shortcomings in preparations' on winter storms MORE (D-Ill.)  told Zuckerberg he believes there are similarities between Facebook's data collection practices and a federal government's controversial covert operation in the 1960s, known as COINTELPRO, that improperly surveilled black civil rights activists.

“I was personally a victim of COINTELPRO. Your organization, your methodology in my opinion is similar," Rush told Zuckerberg.

"Mr. Zuckerberg, what is the difference between Facebook’s methodology and the methodology of the American political pariah J. Edgar Hoover?" he asked, referring to the former FBI director who oversaw the program.

Zuckerberg pushed back against the characterization, saying the option to share information on the social media platform and then later remove the data makes Facebook data collection far different from that of surveillance. 

"Congressman, this is an important question because I think people often ask what the difference is between surveillance and what we do. I think the difference is extremely clear: it's that, on Facebook you have control over your information," he replied.

"The content that you share, you put there. You can take it down anytime. The information we choose to collect, you can choose to have us not collect. You can delete any of it and of course, you can leave Facebook if you want. I know of no surveillance organization that gives people the option to delete the data they have or even know they are collecting."

Olivia Beavers

Zuckerberg says 'enforcement error' made in barring Diamond and Silk

10:38 a.m.

Zuckerberg was responding to questions from Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonRep. Ron Wright dies after contracting COVID-19 Biden's gain is Democratic baseball's loss with Cedric Richmond Bottom line MORE (R-Texas) on recent revelations that Trump supporters Diamond and Silk were blocked from Facebook after the company labeled their content “unsafe to the community.”

“In that specific case, our team made an enforcement error, and we have already got in touch with them to reverse it," Zuckerberg told Barton. 

"You need to work with Congress and the community to ensure that it is a neutral, safe, and to the largest extent, private platform. Do you agree with that?" Barton asked.

"I do agree that we should work to give people the fullest free expression possible. When I talk about giving people a voice, that's what I care about," Zuckerberg responded.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington on high alert as QAnon theory marks March 4 The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? MORE (R-Texas) similarly grilled Zuckerberg on the issue Tuesday.

– Julia Manchester

Zuckerberg won’t commit to changing default user settings to minimize data collection

10:30 a.m. 

Zuckerberg would not commit to changing all of Facebook’s default user settings to minimize data collection and use.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 House Democrats criticize Texas's 'shortcomings in preparations' on winter storms House panel to probe conspiracy theories in the news MORE (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the panel, asked whether Zuckerberg would commit to changing the default settings “to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the collection and use of user data.”

Zuckerberg would not say "yes." “This is a complex issue that deserves more than a one-word answer,” he said.

“That is disappointing,” Pallone replied.

– Morgan Chalfant

Zuckerberg apologizes — again

10:17 a.m.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his opening statement again took responsibility for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that impacted millions of Facebook users. 

At the same time, he stressed that the social media company is taking steps to ensure that user information is safeguarded. 

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry,” Zuckerberg said, echoing his apology before senators the day prior. 

“I’m committing to getting this right, and that includes improving the way we protect people’s information,” Zuckerberg said.

– Morgan Chalfant

Pallone wants privacy legislation

10:16 a.m.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the committee's ranking member, came out swinging in his opening statement, saying Republican inaction is to blame for the stream of privacy breaches that have dominated the news recently.

"By not doing its job, this Republican-controlled Congress has become complicit in this nonstop cycle of privacy by press release," Pallone said, arguing that Facebook and the rest of the major internet platforms need to be regulated.

"We need comprehensive privacy and data security legislation," he added. "We need baseline protections that stretch from internet service providers to data brokers to app developers and to anyone else who makes a living off our data."

We heard a few senators voice support yesterday for new privacy laws, but Zuckerberg refused to endorse the idea, saying only that he supported greater privacy protections in theory.

Pallone's frustration may come from the lack of action Congress has taken since grilling the former CEO of Equifax last year following that company's massive data breach.

"We all know the cycle by now: our data is stolen and the company looks the other way; eventually reporters find out, publish a negative story, and the company apologizes. Congress then holds a hearing; and then … nothing," Pallone said.

– Harper Neidig

Chairman Walden gavels in

10:10 a.m.

Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) began the hearing by asking Zuckerberg for suggestions for how Congress can help assure Americans of their data security on Facebook.

While he made no mention of the possibility of regulations, he stressed that lawmakers want to be certain that consumers are “adequately informed about how their online activities and information are used.”

“And we ask that you share any suggestions you have for ways policymakers can help reassure our constituents that data they believe was only shared with friends or certain groups, remains private to those circles,” Walden said.

“These issues apply not just to Facebook, but equally to the other internet-based companies that collect information about users online,” he said.

– Morgan Chalfant