Facebook Answers Senate's Privacy Questions After Two Months

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Facebook recently provided the U.S. Senate with answers to a number of questions presented by stateside lawmakers earlier this spring, having done so some two months after its co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by Capitol Hill in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, though with limited success. The two-month delay may be attributed to the fact that Facebook’s head was presented with dozens of questions during his two congressional hearings in April, with every Senator only being allowed several minutes for questioning the 34-year-old. The comprehensive document provided to American legislators numbers 452 pages, though it also retreads many of the same ground Facebook previously covered, ultimately revealing little new information about the company’s privacy practices.

Among other things, the social media giant used the opportunity to once again deny reports that it creates “shadow profiles” on individuals who aren’t Facebook users, adding that it doesn’t leverage any non-user data for advertising purposes and only collects it in order to prevent third parties from mining actual user data or abusing the platform in another way. The Menlo Park, California-based firm also disclosed it’s doubling the size of its content review team this year, having said it’s expecting to have 20,000 people policing and curating the platform by early 2019. Facebook is still refusing to refer to its users as the “product” and advertisers as its true “clients” like many critics have been describing its business model in the past, with the latest filing stating the firm remains committed to connecting people at the expense of everything else. “Our priority is protecting our community, and that is more important than
maximizing our profits,” the document reads.

The firm also dismissed the idea of its main platform ever being offered in the form of a paid product, having described advertising as a good compromise that allows even the poorest individuals to stay connected with anyone they care about. On the subject of the Cambridge Analytica ordeal, Facebook testified it believes the political consulting firm paid the equivalent of approximately $1 million in exchange for personal data of up to 87 million users in 2014, most of whom never agreed to having their information harvested in such a manner, i.e. haven’t logged into an online personality quiz tasked with mining user data. Facebook remains under federal scrutiny and may end up being hit by stricter privacy regulations in the near future, together with every other digital giant in the U.S.

Facebook's Post-Hearing Answers