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A Bunch of Senators Just Showed They Have No Idea How Facebook Works. They Want to Regulate It Anyway.

"If Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix their privacy invasions, then we are going to have to. We, the Congress."

ZuckerbergScreenshot via C-SPANOn Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary and Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the company's insufficient efforts to protect users' personal data.

In doing so, many of the senators betrayed a general lack of knowledge about how Facebook operates. Imagine trying to explain social media to your grandparents—this was essentially Zuckerberg's task.

Sen. Roy Blunt, (R–Mo.), for instance, didn't seem to understand that Facebook lacks a means of accessing information from other apps unless users specifically opt in. The same was true of Sen. Roger Wicker (R–Miss.), who needed a lot of clarification on how Facebook Messenger interacts with cellular service. Zuckerberg had to carefully explain to Sen. Brian Schatz (D–Hawaii) that WhatsApp is encrypted, and Facebook can't read, let alone monetize, the information people exchange using that service. Zuckerberg had to explain to multiple senators, including Dean Heller (R–Nev.), that Facebook doesn't technically sell its data: The ad companies don't get to see the raw information.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.) brought along a poster on which his office had printed out images of various Facebook pages. Leahy asked whether these were Russian propaganda groups. "Senator, are you asking about those specifically?" Zuckerberg asked. He of course had no way of knowing what was going on with those specific pages, just from looking at pictures of them. "I'm not familiar with those pieces of content," Zuckerberg finally conceded.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) offered this metaphor to explain Facebook's recent troubles: "the way I explain it to my constituents is that if someone breaks into my apartment with a crowbar and takes my stuff, it's just like if the manager gave them the keys." But that metaphor doesn't quite work—Facebook didn't willfully assist in a crime. Meanwhile, Sen. Debbie Fischer (R–Neb.) didn't understand, at a fundamental level, that if you're using Facebook, you have agreed to let Facebook know a lot of information about you.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) asked whether Facebook had any major competitors. Zuckerberg tried to explain that the company competes across different categories related to Facebook's several main functions—as a tech giant, against Google, as a social media site, against Twitter, and so on—which led Graham to fret about Facebook being a monopoly and thus incapable of self-regulation. Nevertheless, Graham asked Zuckerberg whether the CEO would be willing to propose regulations that Facebook might like the government to impose on it.

Some senators, including Sen. John Cornyn (R–Texas) and Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.), asked perceptive questions about Facebook's data collection practices. Even so, Blumenthal also asked whether users should be able to access all the information Facebook has on them—prompting Zuckerberg to point out that Facebook already lets users download their data.

Throughout the hearing, Zuckerberg maintained that he wasn't against regulation, "if it's the right regulation." However, he expressed concern that regulations aimed at preventing Facebook from functioning as a monopoly might backfire and simply make it more difficult for smaller firms to compete.

But senators on both sides of the political aisle were clear about their concerns—and more than willing to step in.

"If Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix their privacy invasions, then we are going to have to," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D–Fla.). "We, the Congress."

What Nelson and his colleagues largely failed to do was demonstrate that "we, the Congress" possess the requisite knowledge to regulate Facebook, or that those regulations would improve upon the policies Facebook would like to implement on its own. Ignorance breeds bad policy: consider the terrible Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), passed by "we the Congress" recently, which has already dealt serious blows to free expression on the internet.

Photo Credit: C-SPAN

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  • Michael P||

    Non-breaking news: Neither does Robby Soave.

    Sen. Roy Blunt, (R–Mo.), for instance, didn't seem to understand that Facebook lacks a means of accessing information from other apps unless users specifically opt in.

    Facebook does have ways to get information from other apps. They're commonly called (web) APIs, and any app that talks to Facebook uses them.

    Zuckerberg had to explain to multiple senators, including Dean Heller (R–Nev.), that Facebook doesn't technically sell its data: The ad companies don't get to see the raw information.

    Except that's why Facebook is so upset at Cambridge Analytica: CA found a way to get a lot of that information without paying Facebook for it. Curiously, Facebook never got half so upset when the Obama campaign not only sucked out more information, they weaponized people's friends against them.

  • KevinP||

    Robby Soave: Zuckerberg had to carefully explain to Sen. Brian Schatz (D–Hawaii) that WhatsApp is encrypted, and Facebook can't read, let alone monetize, the information people exchange using that service.

    This is simply not true. WhatsApp messages can be analyzed for ad content. Perhaps Robby needs some education too.

  • Agammamon||

    Not if you have your encryption enabled.

  • Ska||

    Thanks for making me double check that, even though I knew it was already on (and is the default if I remember correctly).

  • ||

  • Trainer||

    Facebook does have ways to get information from other apps. They're commonly called (web) APIs, and any app that talks to Facebook uses them.

    Isn't that why we have to agree to a bunch of access before the app will download. People are agreeing to it because they want the app without thinking about the consequences. That's not Zuckerberg's fault.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    This country is run by idiots.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Vote everyone out. Maybe the next batch of idiots won't feel so self important and arrogant.

  • ||

    Yes but as Tucker Carlson told Amy Piekoff last night, he is no longer a mindless libertarian because government is elected.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    Chipper, want to feel like an idiot yourself? Try a run for the U.S. Senate, and see if you can get yourself elevated above complete invisibility in the polls.

    Anyone who thinks reps and senators are uniformly idiots (a few are, alas) doesn't understand the first thing about them. They are mostly experts at what it takes to get elected, and perverse geniuses at projecting favorably during social interactions. Those are useful skills that most politicians possess to an extent far above the norm. Problem is, none of that equips them specifically for policy making But I'm not sold on you as a policy maker either, Chipper.

    And by the way, some politicians are actually hot shots in specific policy-knowledge areas—which, because showing that off can be social poison, they often try to soft peddle or even keep under wraps. Elizabeth Warren would cut you to ribbons in a debate about bankruptcy policy, Chipper.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    A Bunch of Senators Just Showed They Have No Idea How Facebook Works. They Want to Regulate It Anyway.

    Figures. Not knowing how shit works has never stopped them from regulating things before, why stop now?

  • BYODB||


    Nevertheless, Graham asked Zuckerberg whether the CEO would be willing to propose regulations that Facebook might like the government to impose on it.


    I don't know, Graham. It seems to me that if you don't really even know what we do, that it would be pretty stupid of us to tell you how to fuck us over don't you think?


    /sarc


    I'm sure the Zuck has some regulations he'd love to see imposed on his smaller competition, though.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I laughed out loud at that quote. It sounds like something a parent asks a child. "Do you WANT me to send you to your room??" I just can't imagine a truthful answer to Graham's question that isn't simply "No."

  • Saurocet||

    I think this explains how Clapper got away with lying to Congress better than anything else.

  • SQRLSY One||

    PLEASE do NOT throw me in the briar patch, Bro Fox!!! ... Said the Bunny Waaabbit...

    PLEASE go ahead and make Facebook (and ALL of it's competitors, even if they only have 20 employees right now), comply with, and hire another lawyer or 20 lawyers for each of...
    Don't-discriminate-against-purple people, 512-page regs...
    Don't-discriminate-against-green people, 627-page regs...
    Don't-discriminate-against-space- alien-abducted people, 5,237-page regs...
    Don't-discriminate-against-self-identified- silicon-robotic people, 1,523-page regs...
    Don't-discriminate-against-non-descript undecided people, 2,145-page regs...
    Don't-discriminate-against-LGBTWNJTSRF people, 56,908-page regs...
    Don't-discriminate-against-spotted left-leaning right-oriented microbes, 5,997-page regs...
    Don't-discriminate-against-other assorted fuckheads, 99,357-page regs...

    We at Facebook can afford the extra lawyers, and they can NOT!!!! Woooo-Hoooo!!! Party time!!!

    And on and on it goes!!!

  • silver.||

    "LGBTWNJTSRF"

    Libertarian, gay, bi, trans, woke, nebulo, jedi, timpani, sequento, retro, femto?

  • SQRLSY One||

    My GAWD, you are PSYCHIC!!! How did you KNOW?!?!

    (Can you send a link to where you buy your crystal ball, oiji weegee squeegee board whatchamacallit, or mind-reading device, please? Or is it Scientology?)

  • MSimon||

    Sex magick.

  • Agammamon||

    THAT'S RACIST!

  • ||

    Facebook has a lot of lawyers. One, who was VP of Privacy for them, lives in Kalorama in D.C. a few blocks from reason magazine's offices. I sold him a house once so I can't "dox" him. He's a good enough guy and he now has his own consultancy on internet privacy. The home he bought in Kalorama/Embassy Row - near the homes of President Obama, David Brock, Chris Wallace, and Anthony Podesta - is a multi-million dollar home of course.

  • ||

    Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.) brought along a poster on which his office had printed out images of various Facebook pages. Leahy asked whether these were Russian propaganda groups.

    *Pulls out and assembles vaping pipe*

    No Senator obviously, that's rather obviously a genuine Vermont-native propaganda piece.

    *Deep inhale and exhale*

    Ceci n'est pas une website.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "If Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix their privacy invasions, then we are going to have to. We, the Congress."

    Who fixes Congress' privacy invasions?

  • ||

    A woodchipper.

  • plusafdotcom||

    And, Senator, which rules would you like us to suggest that the Senate impose on itself?

    Un-fucking believable request from a Senator.... oh, wait... completely believable.

  • Christophe||

    However, he expressed concern that regulations aimed at preventing Facebook from functioning as a monopoly might backfire and simply make it more difficult for smaller firms to compete.

    Well I have to say I'm impressed that he said that to the regulators instead of encouraging them to put exactly those kinds of rules in place.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I recently listened to a long interview with him (on Freakanomics). He *seems* to genuinely believe that free people make good decisions.

  • OtterDevastation||

    Christ, what a bunch of assholes

  • flyfishnevada||

    If Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. can't keep their data secure, I seriously doubt Congress can. I don't care that Congress doesn't understand how sites like Facebook work. I care that they think they can fix it. That's folly.

  • DenverJ||

    Facebook and Google don't want to keep data secure. Their business is selling that data. If you want your data secure, sooner put it on Facebook.

  • LarryA||

    Congress can't even keep its own data secure. They've raised leaking information to the press to an art form.

  • ||

    I bet those Pakistanis Debbie Wasserman-Schultz had doing the IT for all the Democrats in the House have free time now to help Congress formulate regulations for FaceBook.

  • DajjaI||

    The comments about 'hate speech' were pretty interesting. If you think Facebook drones can do a better job of fighting it (and bullying and fake news) than you, then well, you must not think very highly of yourself.

  • silver.||

    I'm surprised Zuck gave lip service to the fact that regulations would hurt smaller competitors. Maybe he knows they'll do the opposite of what he says, so he's pretending like he doesn't want to write the rules that will keep him on top.

    Clever meta-lobbying. Just have to make the narcissistic bastards in the beltway think they came up with it all by themselves.

    "If Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix their privacy invasions, then we are going to have to," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D–Fla.). "We, the Congress."

    Isn't he like the third critter to repeat exactly this? They have to get their sound bites from other lawmakers? It's too hard to reorganize the words in a novel way?

    Man, I don't like Zuck, but I don't envy him for having to endure this gauntlet of idiocracy.

  • DajjaI||

    He has the patience of a saint. If it were me, I'd be like, "Next person to say 'selling data' gets thrown in the woodchipper."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Man, I don't like Zuck, but I don't envy him for having to endure this gauntlet of idiocracy.

    This is where Zuckerberg wants to be. Testifying before congress is a validation of his company's reach and influence.

  • Just Say'n||

    You know who else repeated this? Ron Wyden

    Fonzie hardest hit

  • DenverJ||

    I don't know what that means

  • Just Say'n||

    Code for "the gang bang is at...." and I can't tell you the rest. Learn the code man

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Maybe he knows they'll do the opposite of what he says, so he's pretending like he doesn't want to write the rules that will keep him on top.

    My thoughts exactly. "No, please Mr. Congressman, don't throw me in that briar patch!"

  • DajjaI||

    Yes, but he said it. So I'll give him the point.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I haven't been to a library in years, but I'd be interested in reading one of these face books.

  • Just Say'n||

    "So, you're telling me it's not just a book of faces?"

  • Ken Shultz||

    It all went sideways after those confounded MTV music video games. Kids started walking around in those shiny pants. Before you knew it was Jesse Jackson rainbow parties, M&M Poop Dogg, and now these damn face books.

    Back in my day, I tell ya, we knew how to have fun without any virtual reality peek-hatchu. Every Saturday night there was a fist fight and dance down at the armory and you could grab a girl's ass without having to worry about any goddamn Russian fake gender news.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Nah, MTV Games published Rock Band 1 and 2. And those rank among my favorite of all time.

  • Sevo||

    The onion in your belt, Ken. You forgot that.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    My Saturday nights as a teenager were like that too, except they involved rolling dice, and the armory was full of axes that an old dwarf took care of, and the bar wench might slap you if you grab her ass without giving her a few silver coins.

  • Anomalous||

    I'm not on your lawn.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The original Facebook was modeled after the college face books, AKA year books, that had pictures of every student's face along with his name. Those books were useful for people who like to look up classmates before a party to review which names go with which faces so that they could pretend to know and care about those classmates when they bump into each other at the party.

    Facebook became more popular than MySpace by limiting membership to people with Ivy League email accounts, then expanding the customer base to people with college email accounts, then everyone. Users were so grateful to be allowed to use Facebook that they ignored how boring the vacation pics were. It's the walled garden college experience automated to lower the production cost and offered to a much larger audience. Humanity could save billions of dollars by shutting down every useless college department and recognizing the value of a generic Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree granted to people who log at least 8,000 hours on Facebook.

  • ||

    MeWe.com

  • barfman2018||

    Facebook became more popular than MySpace by limiting membership ...

    Um, no. MySpace killed itself by allowing customization of users' home pages to the point where the site became unusable. Nobody wants to wait more than 2 seconds for a page to load, and all those music and video plug-ins weighed down the experience intolerably. FB won because it had a clean, snappy UI, and (more importantly) it was in the right place at the right time.

  • Just Say'n||

    Disband the federal government and appoint Rand Paul Lord Protecter of these United States.

    Problem solved

  • Johnimo||

    Tempting …. a benevolent dictator, huh? Problem: who would come next? I doubt seriously we'd find another Rand Paul.

  • ||

    Cloning.

  • Trainer||

    Did you not read Boys From Brazil?

  • MarkInIowa||

    I did enjoy this question.

    "Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?" questioned Durbin, to which Zuckerberg replied with an awkward, "Um… no."

  • Just Say'n||

    Dick Durbin is still one of the biggest statists in the Senate.

    This whole hearing was nonsense just to placate people who are perpetually butt hurt about the results of the last election

  • Sevo||

    "This whole hearing was nonsense just to placate people who are perpetually butt hurt about the results of the last election"

    They are still trying to deny they were stupid enough to vote for that hag, regardless of her baggage train, and that others were smart enough not to.

  • Just Say'n||

    I'm going to say that just about anyone who voted in 2016 was kind of dumb. It was so bad that I thought about voting for Jill Stein. That's like eating at Arby's level of bad

  • SIV||

    Mike Castle would've made a great president.

  • Sevo||

    Living in CA, it was a given my vote didn't mean shit; Johnson got it in the hopes of getting notice that there were those who did NOT like the major parties.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's also fun when you live in certain liberal bastions to near literally see your vote on the map. My father used to like in rural Massachusetts that sometimes there would be literally 1 county vote for the Libertarian. And he could say it was him.

  • silver.||

    I've been that 1 vote many times at my polling place (and sometimes county!), although in a few elections it was me writing in my high school government professor.

    Another born and raised libertarian, eh? We're rare.

  • ||

    My mom in rural Tennessee did this; a life long Democrat, she wasn't ready to vote Reagan but she hated Carter. When the local paper published a grid with precincts and parties she was the lone vote for Ed Clark in her neighborhood. She cut it out and circled it in red.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    C'mon. There ain't nothin' wrong with Arby's.

  • ||

    They have the meats.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?"

    "Depends on what you plan on doing with that information. For instance, if you plan on hiring a bunch of high class escorts for me, then I'd be fine with that. If, on the other hand, you all plan on coming by and forcing me to watch the bunch of you old reprobates have a lemon party then I'll have to pass."

  • Flinch||

    That's one fine summation. When congress starts grilling people, there is usually more wisdom to be found in midgets jousting from the perches of their pogo sticks.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Also, he's missing the point in that each person is making that decision on whether to share it on Facebook. There's no hypocrisy if he specifically chooses not to.

  • LarryA||

    ^ This. People can have a social media site that doesn't sell data anytime they're willing to pay for it.

    The cash to pay for the hardware, software and labor have to come from somewhere.

  • Lester224||

    Mr. Used - in this particular Cambridge Analytica example (which is overblown) most of the 87 million or so people did not make the decision to share their information with the trojan horse app. The app went and harvested info from the Facebook friends of people who gave the app permission. CA got a lot of info which people had not decided to share with them but only to share with their Facebook friends.

    Buyer beware of free stuff and all that.

  • Sevo||

    "Buyer beware of free stuff and all that."

    X: "You can download this app for FREE!"
    Me: "What does it cost?"

  • ThomasD||

    Horse shit indeed.

    If a bank lets people into the vault, and they happen to help themselves to big stacks of cash the bank does not say "sorry, a trojan horse harvested your account balance." Because the bank has a recognized fiduciary duty.

    Facebook never has promised any similar sort of duty regarding the data of it's users. Those people 'who didn't make the decision' had already made the only decision that mattered. They let Facebook have it all.

  • LynchPin1477||

    What Nelson and his colleagues largely failed to do was demonstrate that "we, the Congress" possess the requisite knowledge to regulate Facebook, or that those regulations would improve upon the policies Facebook would like to implement on its own

    To be fair, Congress people don't usually write laws. That's like saying actors write movie scripts.

  • gormadoc||

    Of course Fischer didn't understand. She's a turd. BTW, we just call her Deb Fischer, not Debbie.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Michael Hihn is using a weird insult now, "Wipe the egg off your puss."

    I think I like this insult. It's a very strange image.

  • David Nolan Michael Hihn||

    And very erotic.

  • Just Say'n||

    Sounds old timey and classy. Not bad

  • gormadoc||

    What is classy in your world? It sounds like a weird one.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    What I want to know is how the egg got there. And is it a raw egg, sunny side up, or scrambled? Or may be it is not a chicken egg at all, but a wasted, unfertilized human egg.

  • gormadoc||

    Wait wait wait. I googled "wipe the egg off your puss" and found something weird. There were only a few results, 3/5 from Reason these last few days. Three years ago, on a post at nationalmemo.com, a man named "mike" was arguing about Obama in the comment section. An "Eleanore Whitaker" told him at one point to "Go wipe the EGG off your puss." You can open the comment section and search for "And before you go there" to find it yourself.

    What does this mean!?

  • Sevo||

    "What does this mean!?"

    Old fart schooling the young 'uns:
    "Egg on your (my) face (puss)" means a mistake, typically verbal. Used in the '50's mostly. Like "Dog my cats!", I've been known to use it ironically; hinting that my objection may stem from being of a certain age.
    I'm sure Mike hasn't the nuance to use it in that manner, "my dear sir!"
    He's a fucking idiot.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    He's basically a spam bot with a randomizer.

    One time a year ago I started writing a webcrawler to scrape all of his posts, then I was going to see if I could make a Hihn bot. I only stopped because scrapping peoples posts seems against the spirit of this place.

  • silver.||

    "I only stopped because scrapping peoples posts seems against the spirit of this place."

    This would be fantastic if used sparingly; it could come up with some absolute gold. A bunch of bot spam circle-jerking would suck, though.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) asked whether Facebook had any major competitors. Zuckerberg tried to explain that the company competes across different categories related to Facebook's several main functions—as a tech giant, against Google, as a social media site, against Twitter, and so on—which led Graham to fret about Facebook being a monopoly and thus incapable of self-regulation."

    Zuckerberg explains that Facebook competes with several (many?) other companies, and the senator from S.C. frets about Facebook being a monopoly? What a maroon.

  • Just Say'n||

    Graham doesn't care about this stuff. He's just killing time before the bombs start dropping on Syria. Illegal wars is more Graham's thing

  • Raoul Duke||

    And why in the hell do you think someone should have to understand a thing before they should get to regulate it?

    Just what kind of government do you think we have?

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    I still play FarmVille!

  • Rich||

    I enjoyed how they kept beating him up for having unreadable TOS.

    Irony and lack of self-awareness at several levels.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I caught about 5 minutes of it while I was picking up my Thai food. I think that's about all I can take of Zuckerberg's face for about a year.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • Lester224||

    How old is he again? He's got the Ron Howard thing going for him. Looks 14 until he's 60 and then all of a sudden he'll look 85.

  • Sevo||

    Rich|4.10.18 @ 9:30PM|#
    "I enjoyed how they kept beating him up for having unreadable TOS."
    Didn't watch it; did he mention, oh, the IRS tax law?

  • Rich||

    Nope, but I kept hoping he would.

    Or at least ask them if they'd read, say, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

  • ShahanKhan||

  • Homple||

    Say what you want about our grandparents, Soave. They knew how to change a tire.

  • Sevo||

    If your car needs a hand crank top start, keep your thumb tucked into your palm, not hooked over the crank. If the engine backfires and your thumb is over the crank, you'll have a broken thumb.
    Some of us knew more than how to change a tire.

  • Homple||

    Yeah. I know that. I would have to start our farm tractor with a hand crank when it got too cold for the battery to drive the starter.

    I expect this was before your old man had his first trouser tent.

    Soave wrote a piece some time ago about how he had a flat tire and didn't know how to change it.

  • Cloudbuster||

    How old was that tractor? My oldest tractor is a '52 Ford 8N and it doesn't have a hand crank. :)

  • Earth Skeptic||

    I owned some 60's and 70's vintage Landcruisers, and they came with cranks. Besides a single experiment to see if I could start an engine that way, the cranks were handy for setting the engines at TDC. (If you know what that means and why, you are probably an old mechanical nerd.)

  • Stevecsd||

    My grandfather had a Ford Model T or A truck (forget which) when he was a young man and told me about that when I was a kid. Good thing my first car had an ignition key. Broken thumbs are no fun.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Sen. Roy Blunt, (R–Mo.), for instance, didn't seem to understand that Facebook lacks a means of accessing information from other apps unless users specifically opt in.

    I am extremely suspicious of this. At a previous job I worked for a silicon valley startup that was involved in doing large-scale correlation of peoples' behavior on the internet. One thing I was doing as an experiment was tracking what sorts of interactions Facebook followed. The cookie tracking was obvious and expected. What really shocked me though, was this: I created a Facebook account on a laptop that I'd used as a personal laptop, but which had never had Facebook run on it before and which had been cleaned of all Facebook cookies, etc.

    Within a day or two after creating the account, which used all fake personal information and which did not friend anyone I actually knew, and was never on the company network, I was receiving friend recommendations from people that Facebook should have had no way of knowing I knew, most notably a technician at a company in Brazil that I had worked with about five years previously and whom I had no contact since. The only way Facebook could have known about her was that she was in my Skype contacts. I had never authorized Facebook to access my Skype or any other contacts.

  • MSimon||

    Assume anything on a 'net connected computer is open.

  • rudehost||

    How exactly would a browser based app access application data on your local drive? Unless they are using an exploit that isn't possible.

  • Dizzle||

    If he had to tag a phone number to the account, like facebook requires now...facebook looks that number up for all people who shared their phone contacts with the facebook mobile app. If your number is in their contacts, it recommends them to you as a friend.

    That's how my only facebook account, which is fake only to link game data to, keeps popping up my dads old friends because i converted his old phone number to my business line, and used that instead of my real number to make the facebook account.

  • rudehost||

    That would make sense but it isn't the same thing as scraping data out of your skype contacts sitting in a file on your laptop.

  • ||

    About FaceBook and Twitter: What if Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-A, etc. allowed Democrats to enter, but only seated them by the restrooms and always spat in their food?

  • ||

    Testifying before Congress, Mark Zuckerberg today announced that he will stop his employees from censoring Trump supporters, Catholics, libertarians, conservatives, Roseanne fans, and others on Facebook. Instead, Facebook will turn to AI, and Skynet will send Terminators to liquidate the politically incorrect.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    On some level, you gotta admire these guys...They have serious balls.

    Their main job is to pass a budget. They haven't done that in years! Another important job of theirs is the power to declare war. They ceded that responsibility to the White House decades ago. Yet when it comes to stuff like Facebook, or steroids in baseball, they're all over that!

    And don't get me started about all the time off they take, the expense accounts they abuse, and the raises they vote themselves.

    Some people complain about illegal immigrants coming here and going on welfare. Well, I can think of 500+ welfare cases who ought to be forcefully deported, or at least jailed for theft and malfeasance.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    They don't want to know how Facebook--or anything else--works. Why, just imagine what would happen if politicians were expected to know anything about the things they try to regulate. No laws would get passed at all! Then we'd have anarchy! Teh Social Contract torn asunder!

    Unfortunately much of the public seems to have embraced this attitude as well; any attempt to correct mistaken notions are waved away as "_____splaining" which is something that only horrible cis-hetero capitalist shitlords engage in.

  • Empress Trudy||

    There is almost no point or value in these Senate hearings. They are nothing more than grandstanding and public flogging.

  • DamnDirtyApe||

    How about the asshat who asked how Facebook makes money without charging people. Zuckerberg blinked two or three times and said "we sell ads".

  • Flinch||

    That's a throwaway line, as that knowledge has been public since... Moses?. We should ask why a senator is seeking to willingly appear stupid for the camera - that's a means to some end, and inform us they are not to be trusted.

  • Flinch||

    "...Facebook lacks a means of accessing information from other apps unless users specifically opt in." We hope that's true, but the 2012 Obama campaign laid claim to having mapped the entirety of Facebook users. ALL of it. I did not opt in on anything, nor did I click on any FB related Obama 2012 campaign links. So the senators are asking real questions, as what faces them in the form of Zuckerberg is a black box [outside of the thousands that have been steered to most members of that committee lobbing softballs]. Perhaps some rules and algorithms have changed in the interim, but of all people Ted Cruz dissected what should be of interest to users [pro or con]: is facebook a 'neutral' platform, or a poltical one? Given that CNN's metrics jumped 30% in a couple months with no expansion in viewerrship [ratings], I'd say the algorithms have been severely adjusted to favor the left as a means of compensating for Cambridge Analytica... using facebook as designed: it is nearly mathmatically impossible for anyone to publish and not have their data used as a function of some other users habits. Your data is not your data - it's for sale, but not to everybody. Helloooo fascism. Facebook has been hijacked to serve political interests, and I don't believe Zuckerberg knows half of what is going on inside his company.

  • tlapp||

    No clue? Reminds me of congress setting up health insurance exchanges.

  • Atillahn||

    Oh please, get woke. They know exactly how it works. It's their business, they are politicians who use it's methods every day and hire people to do same. Maybe you should listen to the real questions they are asking in their words. He should have been under oath, then it would have been a very different hearing.

  • JuanQPublic||

    This is at "the internet is a series of tubes" level.

  • Finrod||

    Notably absent from this article is Senator Ted Cruz, who rightly ripped Zuckerberg a new one for Facebook purportedly being a neutral forum but censoring conservatives all over the place while letting leftists get away with bullshit that's 50x worse.

  • ravenshrike||

    "Sen. Roy Blunt, (R–Mo.), for instance, didn't seem to understand that Facebook lacks a means of accessing information from other apps unless users specifically opt in. The same was true of Sen. Roger Wicker (R–Miss.), who needed a lot of clarification on how Facebook Messenger interacts with cellular service. Zuckerberg had to carefully explain to Sen. Brian Schatz (D–Hawaii) that WhatsApp is encrypted, and Facebook can't read, let alone monetize, the information people exchange using that service."

    Oh how cute. You opt in when it asks you a series of questions at install, and it certainly doesn't explain the ramifications of such an action when doing so. Moreover, unless you specifically enable end to end encryption in Facebook Messenger you bet your ass they're reading all your texts. While they're purportedly not using that info in targeted ads, they never said they're not using that info for anything at all

  • DrZ||

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."

    -Groucho Marx

  • CE||

    Then blaming insufficient funding for the proposed remedy making things worse, and throwing more money at it.

  • ||

    This reminds me of the late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens deep understanding of how the Internet works: "It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."

    Politicians in general are abysmally ignorant of technology. Except, of course President Trump, who said "I know a lot about hacking." I'm surprised Spanky was able to spell "hacking." Considering that Spanky doesn't even use a computer (except in staged photos), this is highly risible.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Their specialty is "getting elected", that's all they know or care to know.

  • DrZ||

    We have to do something and when you have to do something who better to turn to than Congress?

  • Rockabilly||

    why do these jackasses even care? no one is forced to join the Facebook. What happened to minding your own business, common sense, and let the buyer beware?

  • IceTrey||

    When is Congress going to fix the government's privacy violations?

  • VinniUSMC||

    Privacy violations? You mean, "Freedom and Safety Enhancements"? /sarc

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    What else is new? The thieving, murdering criminal scumbags known as the Federal government are throwing a crybaby, hissy fit because they can't control or regulate the internet. There maybe naysayers on this board but Pandora's box is already open and they can't shut it. They regulate something, tech will find a way around it, their irrelevant and outdated and they don't know it yet. Same with the butt kissing, traitorous millennial shit bags who run Silicon Valley, years of being brainwashed in public schools and Universities have made them throw in with people who should be their enemies. The problem is technology has moved way past all of them, no regulation or tax will stop anybody or anything.

  • josh||

    "Some senators, including Sen. John Cornyn (R–Texas) and Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.),"

    Blumenthal keeps asking stupid questions...

    http://thehill.com/regulation/.....-correctly

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