In Facebook hearing, Sen. Coons worries about possibility of future privacy abuses

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes his seat after a break to continue to testify before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes his seat after a break to continue to testify before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged Tuesday that Facebook was taking steps to improve its handling of   users’ data.

“By the end of this year, we’re going to have more than 20,000 people working on security and content review because this is important,” he testified before a joint session of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees in Washington, D.C.

While many senators directly questioned Zuckerberg, others — including U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware — used their time to discuss their own experiences with Facebook and their bigger concerns for its future.

“You’ve already admitted Facebook’s own advertising tools allowed Russians to target voters based on racist or anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant views, and that may have played a significant role in the election,” Coons said.

“Just today, Time magazine posted a story that wildlife traffickers are using Facebook tools to advertise illegal sales of protected animal parts,” he continued.

“I’m left questioning whether ad targeting tools would allow other concerning practices like diet pill manufacturers targeting teens struggling with their weight or allowing liquor distributors to target alcoholics or a gambling organization targeting those with gambling problems,” said Coons.

Because Facebook is a powerful tool for advertiser, senators also asked the Facebook founder on user’s privacy rights, and how much of their information is being shared with other parties.

“There’s a misperception we sell data to advertisers,” he said. “What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach and we do the placement.”

Zuckerberg reminded the lawmakers that users can choose what information they want to share on their Facebook pages.

 

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