back to article Mark Duckerberg: Second Congressional grilling sees boss dodge questions like a pro

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used today’s grilling in Congress to point the finger at dodgy app developers and Cambridge academics – but appeared to expose huge holes in his knowledge of the way his own business works. Making his second appearance in front of US lawmakers this week – appearing before the House of Reps' Energy …

  1. Citizens untied

    Advertising is about messaging, we used to be concerned about truth in advertising. What they are talking about is Orwellian message control. I do wish our ever so wise lawmakers, who are just now seeming to realize how ridiculous this whole exercise has been, would focus on the big picture. Indeed, I believe the ultimate outcome it to certify this content adjustment based on user preference business model, which is the real bugaboo, and will tempt transgression by whoever chooses to try to exploit it next, or FB will just find a new way, either/or.

    The real benefit of our information ageis the open access and virtually unlimited information. We could be liberating education and creating real electronic democracies that are nimble, responsive and comprised of well informed constituents, or we can wait for Farmville 2.

  2. a_yank_lurker

    Round 1

    This is round 1, which is basically a draw. Many more rounds will follow before one can say who won. Neither side got a knockout punch in but spared with each other.

    1. macjules

      Re: Round 1

      Well, from my perspective it looks like Mr Zuckerberg has pretty much just learned what a Gerald Ratner Moment is like, i.e. that awkward time when you realise that you have just insulted your customers users and they are starting to fire up their old MySpace profiles.

      1. Rich 11

        Re: Round 1

        and they are starting to fire up their old MySpace profiles

        That will cheer up Rupert Murdoch no end.

        1. O RLY

          Re: Round 1

          "That will cheer up Rupert Murdoch no end."

          Why? He doesn't own MySpace anymore.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Security measure

    So FB DOES have "security" tools to keep tabs on data slurpers. But then, we know that data slurping had been going on for a long while in massive ways.

    Or at least we are told that it was slurping, not FB selling data.

    The masters of dealing with massive data cannot deal with something like "how many pages" are accessed...?!?!

    no adds up.

    "Even if someone isn’t logged in, we track certain info like how many pages they’re accessing as a security measure," he said.

    1. Oengus

      Re: Security measure

      yes, non-users are tracked, but only for security reasons, so non-users don't scrape masses of content.

      Only Facebook, Google and other American megacybercorps are allowed to slurp masses of content...

    2. Mark 85

      Re: Security measure

      One could reasonably think that their "security" controls are more to prevent someone not paying FB for the data. This concept of tracking users (or everyone.. he doesn't say) as a "security measure" just reeks of doublespeak.

    3. Mage

      Re: Security measure

      No security needed.

      Just stop gathering the information. Bin the "F" icon scripts and Pixel program.

      Just sell ad space.

      No app API access at all.

      Problem solved.

      1. BebopWeBop

        Re: Security measure

        Except with selling that data...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Something in the testimony for us to Like'

    Was there anything? Very SAD 2 days..... Facebook Crimes have been an open-secret for years, for example:

    So what personal price was paid today / yesterday by Facebook's CEO? Liarberg got to Lie and then go home and sleep on a bed of billions with zero accountability. I guess America is the land of the free, when you're untouchable! The sad fact is, Facebook / Instagram will blossom despite this political cross-examination.

    Most Americans don't really have any freedom. There's a higher standard of living than in Russia / China maybe, but that comes at a cost: Fear of losing Health Insurance / Paying down Debt / Losing your job / Getting sued! That's not glamorous freedom / openness to think freely. America is exceptional at selling the 'idea of freedom', but its all just brainwashing!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nice summary of main Facebook gotchas here:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nice summary of main Facebook gotchas here:

        He was well schooled. Senators ask: 'What data Advertisers have access to'. Zukhead replies: 'We give users full control over their data'. Different question / Different answer every time.

        1. VinceH

          Re: Nice summary of main Facebook gotchas here:

          Hangonamo... has anyone studied the answers he gives and compared them to earlier questions?

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: Nice summary of main Facebook gotchas here:

          a) answer the question with a question

          b) answer your own question.

          I saw that parodied in Zootopia. The results weren't good.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Day 2: Mushrooming users / non-users is good business

    'Mushrooming' users: 'Keep them in the dark and Feed them shit'. Zuk was right... It was just a PR issue for Facebook. Keep repeating the same PR lies long enough, and by sheer will, the world will start to believe the lies:



    "In another combative exchange, the business leader was questioned about the data his firm collected on people who had never signed up to his service. Zuckerberg said this was done for security purposes.

    But he professed not to be familiar with the term "shadow profiles" despite it having been used widely by the media during a past Facebook data privacy controversy. And he was unable to say how many types of data were being gathered about non-members.

    "You said everyone controls their data," said Democratic congressman Ben Ray Lujan. "But you are collecting data on people that are not even Facebook users, that have never signed a consent or privacy agreement.

    "When you go to Facebook's 'I don't have a Facebook account page and would like to request all my personal data stored by Facebook', it takes you to a form that says go to your Facebook page and then on your account settings you can download your data.

    'We've got to fix that'"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big-Tobacco vs Facebook

    Zuk's testimony reminds me of the Insider (1999). During the last 2 days, Zuk was all 7-Dwarfs boldly lying to Congress & Lawmakers. The problem today is that few people are aware of the full dark nature of social media.

    Mass Surveillance... Addiction and exploiting the dopamine nature of 'Likes' etc... Fake news.. Election-Rigging... Creepy Emotional / Behavioral Profiling... Bullying... Intimidation... Harassment... Extremist views... Illegal product sales... Differential pricing on loans / credit costing the poor more.

    But I predict a Whistleblower will come out of the Shadows someday, and Zuk will have to make a huge settlement, just like Big Tobacco did in the 90's. Then Hollywood will probably make another movie about it all...

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Big-Tobacco vs Facebook

      Given the amount of slurpage, maybe FB is a front company for one of the 3-letter agencies? Has the hallmarks of grabbing everything on everyone whether they signed up for it or not.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Big-Tobacco vs Facebook

        maybe FB is a front company

        You are repeating Vladimir Vladimirovich. Literally. Which is Bullshit.

        While F-Book, Google, etc have been connected at the hip with USA government agencies since GW Bush, they are not fronts. They are businesses in their own right which sell your data and productize YOU to the highest bidder. That highest bidder are usually commercial interests. Unless it is an election year...

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Big-Tobacco vs Facebook

      the dopamine nature of 'Likes'

      I prefer the thumbs down. It means I'm doing it "right". Pun intended.

  7. Stuart Halliday

    “we thought that when developers told us they weren’t going to sell data” they meant it."

    So very naivé or very stupid or lying.

  8. Tom 64
    Thumb Up

    Nice article

    Great summary, thanks El Reg.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Nice article

      Then there's this and this and I wonder just how useful this exercise is going to be. Probably this is so we can be told that Something Was Done later on.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    and if they really want to, they can delete Facebook

    100% BS. They can't delete Facebook. Users have witness deletion of their Facebook account only to find it still welcome friend request. In some case, they can still log back into their account. It is as if deleting deactivates the account only.

    Not to mention, it's their cloud, their computer. There is no guarantee it is truly deleted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Liar

      I would have asked him about the strange deletion mechanism - why it has to wait two weeks, and automatically quash the delete request if anything logs to the account meanwhile? Is an "Are you sure you want to delete your account?" messages not enough? The mechanism is clearly designed to hiner deletions but by determined users who never used FB to log to other services or apps.

      And if data are truly physically deleted is something that should require an independent audit. EU laws requires it - but is FB compliant?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Liar

        "And if data are truly physically deleted is something that should require an independent audit. EU laws requires it - but is FB compliant?"

        I'm not sure of the exact EU laws on this but what's needed, and needed to be used, is legislation that allows regulators to be able to pro-actively audit businesses. They need teams entitled to and capable of turning up at reception with not prior appointment able to go through systems to account for all the storage in use, reconcile it with schemas, samples of data and not leave until either they've satisfied themselves that there's nothing underhand or that they're in a position to bring charges.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Liar

          I deleted mine in 2007.

          Every time the 2 year time limit for them to REALLY delete my data comes near I get a few "someone tried to access your FB account, please log in and confirm it was not you"....EVERY 2 years since 2007

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Zuckerberg lied / deceived for 10 hours straight

    Wow - Talk about being cut out for Politricks or what!!! Zuk4Potus

  11. PhilipN Silver badge

    Strangely, reminds me of an Eric Idle joke

    Q. What is your usual sexual position?

    A. The married man’s. Flat on your back with your wallet wide open.

    P.S. Note the same FB troll dv’ing automatically every post which is not gushingly supportive of FB.

    P.P.S. Every Brit knows what “FB” stands for.

    1. JakeMS

      Re: Strangely, reminds me of an Eric Idle joke

      What does FB stand for?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Strangely, reminds me of an Eric Idle joke

        What does it stand for? Making money by mass surveillance and brazenly lying when the mask slips to ride out the shitstorm.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Strangely, reminds me of an Eric Idle joke

        What does FB stand for?

        being from across the pond, I had to try and figure it out. I found two terms, both with the initials 'FB', that most likely qualify.

        a) Friend with Benefits

        b) FEEL Buddy [word substitution for humor]

        I'm guessing 'b' [the un-bowdlerized version]

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone seems to be missing the main point

    There is NO privacy whatsoever on FB.

    The company sees everything, 3rd party agencies see whatever they can afford to.

    You are the lab rat.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Everyone seems to be missing the main point

      "You are the lab rat."

      What must be the psychological mindset of someone who would actually treat other people this way? In other words, people (in general) are de-humanized, and then monetized, and *tricked* into accepting all of this for a potentially addictive 'fix' that temporarily boosts (or not) their emotional states?

      Well, at least it's not smokin' up MY air... [other than THAT, it really DOES seem like 'Big Tobacco' spiking cigarettes and breeding tobacco specifically to make it more addicting, etc. which is what all of the allegations have been over the years, and "F.B." as a corporation is no exception to this kind of mindset, or so it would appear]

      Answer to first question: a sociopath. knows what he does is morally wrong, but he does it anyway.

      1. look for a lack of shame

      2. See if the person is constantly lying

      3. See if they are able to stay eerily calm in spite of circumstances

      4. Consider if they are extremely charming and generous—at least at first

      5. Notice if the person is manipulative

      6. Look for signs of instigating violent behavior [ANTIFA? divisive politics?]

      7. See if the person has a huge ego

      8. Notice if the person has few real friends [I wonder...]

      9. Consider if the person likes to isolate you [creepy clingy?]

      10. See if the person is immature [does not learn from mistakes...]

      11. Look for gaslighting [F.B.'s treatment of 'Diamond and Silk']

      12. Observe if they use an intense, manipulative stare to attempt to intimidate you [not to be confused with the 1000-yard stare, the look from someone who can't be broken because it's already happened, and he survived]

      anyway, not all of these would apply, but it looks like MOST of them could! If not to anyone in particular, to the organization as a whole...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Potemkine! Silver badge

    If I get it right,

    Everyone is spied, but only FB users can know about some of the data collected about them?

    But as a non-FB user I shouldn't be worried been spied on, it's all about security... Thanks Mark to take care of that for me.

  14. quxinot

    Wish I was in MI.

    I could vote for that person.

    Nevermind party lines and such, that's the sort of thing that should be rewarded. While the red and blue divy up a narrow band in the middle and shout, there's a black area waaaayyy over there that we all agree on, and that's where the questions were coming from. Politics and law needs more of the stuff that anyone can agree on for a basis, not minor stuff that precisely splits us.

  15. VinceH



    Throughout the majority of the session, Zuckerberg insisted that all of the information gathered on users would be handed to them in a ZIP file if they used the ‘download your data’ tool.


    Er, no it's not

    Exactly that - it's not.

    About three weeks ago I mentioned Plex mysteriously (and creepily) appearing in my interests in Facebook's advertising preferences.

    I subsequently did the 'download your data' thing, and that's not mentioned in there at all.

    As the article continues...

    This is - in short - incorrect. Because that file won’t include, for a start, the tracking data slurped up by Facebook’s advertising tool, Pixel, which is slurped up as you browse the web - and has even been banned by a Belgian court.

    In this case, I'm sure it's not data collected by Pixel because of the controls I have in my browsers, coupled with timing (non-use of Facebook at the time I was trying Plex). I strongly suspect (but can't say for certain) this actually comes from something on my phone - and that that something was foisted on me by the phone maker in an update.

  16. Astrohead

    Dr Aleksandr Spectre (Kogan)

    Dr Aleksandr Spectre (Kogan)



    Where's 007 when you need him?

  17. IHateWearingATie

    Not that bothered

    I was asked by someone if I was bothered about the Facebook data leak. I thought for a minute then answered truthfully 'No'. When I really considered it, I had always assumed that any data that I give Facebook (intentionally or unintentionally) is for sale to the highest bidder. This just confirmed it.

    I'd be annoyed if my bank did this, but Facebook? Scorpion's gonna sting, its in their nature.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Not that bothered

      "Scorpion's gonna sting, its in their nature."

      Then, WHY do you (apparently) do business with one?

      [if the product is "free", YOU are the commodity]

  18. RealBigAl

    So if I read this right

    Facebook collects personally identifiable information on people, who are not facebook users, without their explicit permission?

    GDPR lawyers are already sharpening their quill pens and opening deposit accounts ready for the cash inflow.

  19. Danny 2

    Worst ever episode of 'Silicon Valley'

    It turns out "It's complicated" is Zuckerberg's relationship to his business practices. Gavin Belson pretending to be Nelson Bighetti.

  20. naive

    Personal information is the Internet Dollar

    Mr. Zuckerberg happens to be a law abiding citizen, who also happens to operate a world wide network of servers on which we can store and share personal information, free of charge and on voluntary basis.

    I have no idea what the costs are of running facebook, it for sure will be in the nine digit range. The only way how mr. Zuckerberg is able to cover these expenses is by selling the information we are giving him.

    So either don't give mr. Zuckerberg anything.

    Whining about him trying to make a penny with the things we give, seems unreasonable.

    1. Danny 2

      Re: Personal information is the Internet Dollar

      It was a big mistake to make computers easy to use for morons, but once we did then it should be a crime to allow the smart to trick the stupid into throwing elections.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Personal information is the Internet Dollar

        it should be a crime to allow the smart to trick the stupid into throwing elections.

        It's been standard practice for thousands of years, how do you expect to stop it now?

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: Personal information is the Internet Dollar

          "it should be a crime to allow the smart to trick the stupid into throwing elections."

          and if it were a crime, the Demo-Rat party would all be in jail (for getting OBAKA elected - TWICE). Mrs. Clinton notwithstanding of course.

          Or else corruption in the FBI and DOJ would declare them all 'innocent' before the investigation even starts, whichever. Yeah, THAT would never happen, right?

    2. GIRZiM

      Re: the costs are of running facebook, it for sure will be in the nine digit range

      Oh, cry me a river!

      I don't have an FB account and don't give a flying monkey's if he has to sell his kid's kidney to pay for his business - what's my data doing in your house, Mark???

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm just waiting until people realise he also endorsed Diamond and Silk.

    Don't get me wrong, lovely ladies. Not so keen on their politics, but man they are divisive.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      WHO endorsed Diamond and Silk - ZUCK? NO way, F.B. silently *BANNED* them from sending updates to their subscribers... then Zuck LIED about it!

      And, saying things that are a) politically incorrect and b) going against the expectations of the left (based on things like race, sex, etc.) is _NOT_ _DIVISIVE_!

      What's divisive is things like: ANTIFA, "hands up don't shoot", and THIS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That was before.

        In front of senators Zuck said they belonged on Facebook.

        Not that I'm convinced belonging on Facebook is a complement, but from him I am confident it's an endorsement.

  22. FatGerman Silver badge

    It's hardly surprising...

    ... that Zuck doesn't know what the fuck his company does. He's the CEO. I've never worked under any CEO who knows how the company he runs achieves the goals he creates.

    How to run a modern business: Set goals, teams create stuff to achieve goals, don't actually understand how it all fis together. Either you get away with it or you don't. Pocket profit. Plead innocence.

  23. GIRZiM

    "People not signed into Facebook... can see things that are public... but we don't want someone to be able to go through and access every piece of information" on the site.

    Yeah, that's called securing the site and servers - you don't need to track me to do that, you just need to pay people who know how to secure the site and servers to, you know, secure the site and servers. If the people you are employing don't know how to do that, I'll come around and give them an obscenely expensive Principles of Computer Security 101 course.

    Lesson 1: How To Disable Anonymous Access To A Server - don't enable anonymous access to start with.

    Lesson 2: There is no lesson 2 - people who don't have an account can not now "go through and access every piece of information."

    Lesson 3: There's actually a lot more to it than that (ports, services, servers, SSH, firewalls, etc., etc., etc.) - but you don't need to track me for any of that to work either.

    That'll be $1,000,000,000, please.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the point of these sessions?

    A time limit of four minutes makes it impossible to develop any detailed, forensic line of questioning. Why are there so many people on these committees, and why do they not get together beforehand to work out what they need to find out rather than all of them having a separate line of questioning?

  25. Miss_X2m1

    US Senators are also Lawyers.

    US Senators are also lawyers. Very clever and tricky lawyers.

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