Technology

Dem lawmaker calls on Facebook to fire Zuckerberg

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) on Wednesday urged Facebook to fire CEO Mark Zuckerberg after a bombshell report emerged that the tech giant granted other companies access to users' personal data without consent. 

"The American people are tired of the excuses, the lies, and the deliberate evasion. It is utterly appalling that we are only presented with the truth when it has been exposed," Rush, who sits on the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said in a statement. 

"Facebook is one of the world's most innovative companies.  t is highly implausible its leadership repeatedly fail to understand their own policies of consent and the ways in which their product has been - and continues to be - manipulated and weaponized," he added.

Rush's comments come one day after The New York Times reported that Facebook allowed major tech companies, including Microsoft, Amazon and Netflix, access to users' personal data.

The Times cited interviews and hundreds of documents from Facebook that shows the tech giant enabled Microsoft's Bing search engine to view the names of Facebook users' friends, without their consent. The report also found that Facebook allowed Netflix and Spotify to read users' private messages, as well as allowed Amazon to obtain users' names and contact information through their friends. 

The agreements with Facebook applied to more than 150 companies, most of which are technology and online retail sites, the Times reported. Each of the deals was in effect as recently as 2017, and some were active this year, according to the Times. 

"[Zuckerberg] no longer deserves the privilege of leading one of America's great success stories. I am angered that his own greed and desire for tech dominance outweighed his responsibility to and the trust placed in him by his countless users," Rush continued. "It is time for new leadership at Facebook and it is time for Mark Zuckerberg to log out." 

"We know we've got work to do to regain people's trust," Steve Satterfield, Facebook's director of privacy and public policy, told The Hill in a statement, adding that none of the arrangements violated users' privacy agreements. "Protecting people's information requires stronger teams, better technology and clearer policies, and that's where we've been focused for most of 2018."

Facebook has faced mounting criticisms over the past two years for its handling of users' private data and what some critics have dubbed a lack of transparency in confronting such issues. The tech giant has also faced criticism for its handling of misinformation campaigns aimed at influencing U.S. elections. 

Zuckerberg vowed in the wake of a privacy breach involving British firm Cambridge Analytica that the company was "taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen again."

The Times published a report last month that said the platform's leadership was slow to confront Russian efforts to exploit the platform for election meddling, and that it hired a public relations firm to accuse liberal financier George Soros of funding some of the groups that were speaking out against Facebook.

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