The 10-hour hearing between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and members of Congress was about more than using your data for advertising.
GeekWire’s Civic Innovation Editor Monica Nickelsburg says people are finally waking up to the idea that our data is used for marketing as well as more nefarious reasons.
There were two main reasons for the hearing. First, the Cambridge Analytica scandal — where the political data firm received unauthorized data for millions of Facebook users. Second, the fact that Facebook allowed Russian government-backed agents to interfere in our elections.
It’s raised questions about what Facebook actually is, how much power it has, and if it should be regulated more strictly.
“Consumers are waking up to the fact that these free technology services come at a cost,” Nickelsburg explains. “That cost is relinquishing information about ourselves …”
But was Zuckerberg being truthful?
“I think there was a lot he didn’t say. I think he did a good job of sticking to the script of the message he wanted to get across. He touted changes Facebook has made since the Cambridge scandal to try and shore up concerns over security and privacy and gain the trust of users.”
However, it seemed implausible that he wouldn’t know the answers to some of the questions. One member of Congress, for example, brought up shadow profiles. Zuckerberg answered that he didn’t know anything about them. He did admit Facebook collects information beyond people who have an account, however.
Zuckerberg was also reluctant to discuss further regulations.
“It was a theme any time he was asked about regulation … he tends to say he philosophically endorses the premise of stricter regulation but didn’t specifically endorse any regulation.”
So will Congress crack down on Facebook?
“If they do, it won’t be a result of these hearings. These hearings are a challenging venue to have a meaningful discussion on technology policy. They are short. Our representatives aren’t necessarily subject-matter experts.
“It’s just not really the kind of situation that results in meaningful legislation. It’s just a way to slap Facebook on the wrist and ask more exploratory questions.”
Listen to the entire interview with Nickelsburg here.
It isn’t just Facebook taking your information
When Dylan Curran began looking into how much information Google had on him, he found gigabytes worth of data — 5.5 gigabytes of data.
“It was all the images and files I’ve ever downloaded.”
The issue isn’t so much how much data Google has, but how long it is kept. Google has years-worth of data on him.
Thankfully, it can be deleted.
Listen to the entire interview here.