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Key takeaways from Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional appearance that media professionals should know

In the most high profile chapter in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by US lawmakers on Capitol Hill yesterday (April 10). From a marathon session where he faced questions on the social network’s role in democracy, its data privacy policies and how it interfaces with advertisers, The Drum collates key points likely to affect practitioners in the media industry.

The phrase ‘break the internet’ is one used much too often, but it could be argued that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance in front of a joint hearing of the US Senate’s Commerce and Judiciary Committees did just that, with #Zuckerberg trending on just about every online social platform.

Facing questions from almost half of the members of the US Senate, the Facebook chief was grilled for close to five hours on his thoughts on a wide range of topics including internet regulation, fake news, foreign interference, plus the social network’s privacy policies.

‘Move fast with stable infrastructure’

Zuckerberg used the forum to discuss his openness “in principle” for more explicit privacy terms similar to GDPR – statements which could be interpreted as a defense of the “walled garden” model – more proactive attempts from Facebook to police its ecosystem, and the concept of an ‘ad-free Facebook’.

Gone now is its former swashbuckling mantra of ‘move fast and break things’ that characterized Facebook’s early days as a pre-IPO startup, which has since made way for the new adage of “move fast with stable infrastructure”.

In a pre-prepared statement, Zuckerberg struck a conciliatory tone, echoing his public statements in recent weeks. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake, and it was my mistake, and I’m sorry,” he told elected officials. “Overall, we’re going through a broader philosophical shift in how we approach our responsibility.”

1.) US lawmakers are proposing tighter restrictions over user consent and data sharing similar to the EU’s GDPR

As Zuckerberg faced questions on his thoughts on the prospect of internet regulation, it emerged that Senators Edward J Markey, and Richard Blumenthal, tabled a privacy bill of rights dubbed the Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions (CONSENT Act) as a response to “the avalanche of privacy violations by Facebook and other online companies”.

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