Facebook Scandal: 5 Key Lessons From Zuckerberg’s Face-Off With Congress

Photo Credit: AFP

Mark Zuckerberg was heard by the Congress on 4/10/2018 to talk about the growing concern over data management in Facebook. This session comes after The Times reported that in 2014 contractors and employees of Cambridge Analytica used Facebook to build and sell psychological profiles of American voters. The founder and CEO of Facebook had to clarify to the congress the terms of use and privacy policy of the most popular social media and explain what they are doing to prevent data breach and protect users’ privacy.

Hate Speech

Mark Zuckerberg said that the company is working on artificial intelligence to censor hate speech such as promotion of violence, racism, sexism, terrorism and nudity. When asked the definition of “hate speech”, he failed to give a clear answer and said that it was a definition that they would have to debate about.


Senator Ted Cruz asked Mark Zuckerberg if Facebook respects the first amendment. Mark responded that it was Facebook’s responsibility to prevent hate speech to proliferate on the platform. Tec Cruz also asked about the political composition of the committee in charge of reviewing content, implying that their background could impact the way they evaluate content. Mark said that political views was not part of the selection process to be part of the team.


Many senators expressed their concerns about the fact that many users don’t know how their data is used by Facebook. Some of them suggested an opt-in process to allow users to explicitly consent to the use of their data. Mark Zuckerberg seemed reluctant to the idea of the legislator intervening in that area.

Political Ads

Mark was asked what Facebook is doing to prevent foreign interferences in domestic elections. He said that anybody wanted to place political ads on Facebook would have to justify a residence in the country concerned by the election. Facebook will send a code to the domestic address provided to verify the residence. That’s something that Google is currently doing to verify businesses on Google Map.

Going forward

We can reasonably expect many updates from Facebook as they face intense pressure concerning data management. If an opt-in model is adopted between Facebook and users, Facebook Ads Manager may lose some of the detailed targeting features. Facebook collected data on the premise that there is an agreement between Facebook and users when they sign up to Facebook. If the legislator forces Facebook to change its business model to an opt-in approach for data collection, it may become less attractive as an advertising platform.

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