Previewing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress this week, Wired editor-in-chief and CBS News contributor Nicholas Thompson says that the billionaire has received an “education” in the wake of the 2016 election and ongoing privacy concerns for users on his social media platform.
“I think that there’s been a real education process for Mark Zuckerberg that began the day that Trump was elected because, remember, Trump’s philosophy, which is somewhat tribalistic, is entirely different from Zuckerberg’s philosophy, which is, bring everyone in the world together. And so the day after the election, I think Zuckerberg started to realize, ‘Wait, did my systems do this? Am I responsible for this?'” Thompson told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “He’s gone through a lot in the last year and a half, and I think you’ve seen a real education, a real evolution.”
He added that “Zuckerberg is really grappling, and I think he’s understanding, that this platform that he genuinely thought could only do good for the world actually can be manipulated. And that’s the story of the last two years.”
Thompson said that while he thinks thewhich revealed that data from as many as 87 million Facebook users had been harvested without their knowledge, had been a “little blown out of proportion,” Facebook did not respond to the crisis nearly as quickly as they should have.
“What happened in this specific instance isn’t quite as terrible as people make it out to be. And Facebook’s not as much at fault as people make them out to be,” explained Thompson.
He added, however, “Facebook has been violating our privacy and not paying any price for it for 12 years. So in some ways this is the comeuppance for 12 years of sort of small privacy violations and breaches of trust that Facebook hasn’t really been punished for, so they’re being punished too much for this specific crime. But maybe the right amount for the accumulation of things over the last decade.”
Zuckerberg will face questions from lawmakers in both the House and Senate this week in two separate hearings. Thompson said while many of the questions will focus on what exactly happened to users’ data in the Cambridge Analytica case, Zuckerberg will also likely take heat for what happens going forward.
“He’ll go up there, he’ll apologize, he’ll explain it, and then what’s going to be interesting is what comes next. Is it just retributions or do we actually try to figure out good tech governing policy? Because we haven’t really had a debate about how to regulate these companies in 20 years,” said Thompson.
Thompson predicted that regulations modeled after European standards for data privacy would be coming in response to the outcry over the data controversy.
“There does need to be some government regulation that goes beyond what Facebook is doing. Facebook has announced about 20 policy changes in the last few weeks. There are very good changes. They do protect you. They do open things up. They will make political campaigns clearer and fairer. But there also is a role for Congress both in setting specific regulations and also setting some guidelines for Facebook to follow in the future,” he said.
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