Facebook co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg refused to commit to default Facebook settings that would be maximally privacy-oriented, i.e. have all of the company’s optional data collection programs disabled unless users specifically opt into them. During a Wednesday hearing with the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, the multi-billionaire was asked whether he’s prepared to make that commitment with a “yes or no” answer which he repeatedly refused to give, having asserted that the issue in question is a “complex” one that cannot be clarified with a one-word answer and requires a more in-depth discussion that the event doesn’t allow for due to its time-constrained nature.
As part of the same hearing, the 33-year-old said he doesn’t consider Facebook to be “a media company” when Congressman Greg Walden inquired about the matter. While he acknowledged Facebook pays for some content to be produced, Mr. Zuckerberg said he doesn’t believe that makes it a media company any more than creating “planes to help connect people” makes it “an aerospace company.” While the Congressmen suggested Facebook’s chief is evading the question with false analogies, the hearing didn’t allow for enough time to do follow-up questions, with lawmakers only being provided four minutes with Mr. Zuckerberg each. When Congresswoman Anna Eshoo asked the entrepreneur whether he’s willing to “change Facebook’s business model” in an effort to protect the privacy of the firm’s individual users, Mr. Zuckerberg said he’s “not sure what that means.”
The hearing in question is still ongoing and can be watched live by referring to the embedded YouTube window below. The overall contents of the questioning are similar to yesterday’s joint Senate committee hearing that revealed little new information about Facebook‘s business practices and future plans, save for what the company already disclosed in the past. Mr. Zuckerberg’s visit to Washington is a direct consequence of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that’s still ongoing after it came to light that one Aleksandr Kogan shared data improperly harvested by one of his apps with the American political consulting firm in question four years ago, thus compromising up to 87 million users, according to the social media giant’s internal estimates.