Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before the U.S. Senate Tuesday, and the House the day after that. The appearances are either a step toward redemption, or a step on the path to the public opinion gallows.
“He is one of the most powerful people in the world. He has more members than practically every country has citizens,” said Palo Alto-based technology analyst Larry Magid.
But it’s the backlash from this country’s citizens that has sparked a global outcry over social media privacy. This, after Facebook revealed the personal information of more than 80 million users was shared with a political research firm.
“The naivete on Zuckerberg’s part was allowing guys like this researcher from Cambridge University to access data that was in-turn provided to Cambridge Analytica, which ultimately wound up in the Trump campaign,” said Magid.
Zuckerberg is prepared to fall on his sword Wednesday when he tells the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”
Even before the apparent mea culpa, some Facebook uses such as Steve Wozniack, deleted their profiles. Others say the government should do more to regulate social media companies.
“They need to have some sort of regulatory framework to protect the consumer,” said Walnut Creek resident Frank Ladra.
Experts say additional regulations, or even new laws, could be a consequence, after congress members get their pound of flesh from Zuckerberg during two days of testimony..
“In the European union for example at the moment, they came up with some kind of bill that regulates these kinds of big companies in Europe. And we may follow the same kind of stuff over here,” said Calif. State University – East Bay computer science professor Dr. Levent Ertaul.
Wednesday, Zuckerberg will outlines steps Facebook is already taking to protect users information, such as limiting the data Facebook shares with third-party apps. He also has announced the formation of an election research commission made up of academics who will study how Facebook influences domestic elections.