Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook in 'arms race' with Russia

Apr 12, 2018, 07:17 IST | Agencies

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg took personal responsibility on Tuesday for the leak of data on tens of millions of its users, while warning of an "arms race" against Russian disinformation during a high stakes face-to-face with US lawmakers

Mark Zuckerberg. Pic/AFP
Mark Zuckerberg. Pic/AFP

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg took personal responsibility on Tuesday for the leak of data on tens of millions of its users, while warning of an "arms race" against Russian disinformation during a high stakes face-to-face with US lawmakers.

In his first formal congressional appearance, the Facebook founder and chief executive sought to quell the storm over privacy and security lapses at the social media giant that have angered lawmakers and the network's two billion users. Under mounting pressure over the hijacking of its user data by a British political consultant, Zuckerberg reiterated his apology for the historic breach, before being grilled over how Facebook collects and protects people's personal information.

"It was my mistake, and I'm sorry," Zuckerberg said. "I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here." "It's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm," he said. "That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy."

The 33-year-old CEO spoke of a constant struggle to guard against Russian manipulation of the Facebook platform to influence elections in the US and elsewhere. "There are people in Russia whose job it is to try to exploit our systems and other internet systems and other systems as well," he said. "So this is an arms race. They're going to keep getting better and we need to invest in getting better at this too."

Zuckerberg has previously acknowledged the social network failed to do enough to prevent the spread of disinformation during the last US presidential race. Zuckerberg also revealed that Facebook is cooperating with the US special prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the 2016 vote. "Our work with the special counsel is confidential. I want to make sure in an open session I don't reveal something that's confidential," he said.

'Um, uh, no'
Of the hundreds of questions thrown at Mark Zuckerberg by US lawmakers, none appeared to flummox the Facebook founder more than Senator Dick Durbin's query about where he slept the previous evening. "Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?" Durbin asked. Zuckerberg paused for a full eight seconds, chuckled, grimaced, and ultimately demurred. "Um, uh, no," he said. "I think that might be what this is all about," Durbin told Zuckerberg.

87mn
Number of Facebook users affected by the data breach

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