Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of social media platform Facebook, is slated to testify before Congress for the first time on Tuesday, April 10, for his company’s failure to protect user information. It will be the first of two back-to-back appearances the executive will make this week — the first will take place before the joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees, and on Wednesday, Zuckerberg will testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It won’t be easy, given the temperament in Congress.
“There are going to be people who are going to say Facebook ought to be broken up,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said recently. “There have been a number of proposals and ideas for doing it, and I think unless [Zuckerberg] finds a way to honor the promise he made several years ago, he’s gonna have a law on his hands.”
The legislature has released the entrepreneur’s prepared testimony ahead of his Wednesday hearing, in which Zuckerberg concedes that Facebook was “too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference” during the 2016 election.
“We face a number of important issues around privacy, safety, and democracy, and you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer,” begins Zuckerberg’s statement. “Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company,” the statement reads. “For most of our existence, we focused on all the good that connecting people can bring. As Facebook has grown, people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool to stay connected to the people they love, make their voices heard, and build communities and businesses.” Indeed, the social network has been crucial in helping individuals organize — it played a large role in disseminating the #metoo movement, has helped raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief, and also help organize the March for Our Lives demonstration.
That said, Zuckerberg notes that Facebook has, for many years, been a double-edged sword. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” the executive says. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.” The comments echo full-page ads Facebook has taken out recently. Will it be enough to sway the public?
Zuckerberg’s full remarks can be found below: