Facebook's Zuckerberg grilled harder during second hearing

Facebook's Zuckerberg grilled harder during second hearing

For those of us who have been paying attention to Facebook and its litany of scandals over the past few months, Zuck's testimony in front of committees from the Senate and a (distinctly more lucid) one from the House told us nothing new.

The company collects data on people's online habits regardless of whether they are users. To put that in context, Facebook could theoretically owe $8 billion for one single day of a violation affecting all of its American users.

Whether some of the anonymous group pages now on Facebook were created by Russian agents.

For some reason shadow profiles rarely came up during the hearing the past two days but New Mexico Senator Ben Lujan had clearly done his homework. But when asked about a specific practice, such as collecting data about your location even when you're not using Facebook, almost 70 percent of people did not expect the company to do so.

The offices of both Nelson and Durbin failed to respond to inquiries into whether the senators were aware that they have Facebook pixels on their campaign websites.

"I've just seen it over and over again - that we have the hearings, and nothing happens", he said. Zuckerberg admitted they do, stating "In general we collect data on people who are not signed up for Facebook for security purposes".

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There was a collective eye roll from educated viewers watching along. So a researcher built a personality quiz app under those guidelines, and people used the app - and in doing so, allowed it to harvest anonymized data from their Facebook profiles. Again, Mr Zuckerberg appeared uncomfortable.

The reality is that Facebook has no, simply no justification, for collecting data of users who are not Facebook users, or of those people who are Facebook users but are not logged into the site.

The FTC is investigating the social media company to determine whether it violated a consent decree it signed in 2011 requiring that Facebook notify users if their personal data is shared beyond their specified privacy settings. "We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages", said Facebook in response to the accusation.

Examples of third-party apps that Facebook has banned, aside from Cambridge Analytica's, for transferring user data without consent.

Yes, numerous illustrious senators and representatives assembled devoted their limited minutes with the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the United States to addressing some very simple elements of how Facebook works (which is lucky for Zuckerberg because he had to concentrate most of his energy on modulating his face in the very natural way that humans do).

But that's not entirely true.

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"We did not properly communicate these policies to you", the email reads.

His admission that even the company's tech-savvy founder was unable to protect his own data underscored the problem Facebook has in persuading skeptical lawmakers that users can easily safeguard their own information and that further legislation governing Facebook is unnecessary.

See for yourself. Head over to Archive.IS to view the Facebook page called "I don't have a Facebook account and would like to request all personal data stored by Facebook".

Next month, European Union regulators will begin enforcing a new set of rules, known as GDPR, that seek to restrict the ways that tech companies collect and monetize consumers' personal information.

Zuckerberg may deflect the attention of Congress, but there's no ducking the judgment of other tech executives who also rely on data to build their businesses.

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