Mark Zuckerberg Survives Relentless 5 Hour Grilling from Congress

By Elliot Bullman

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told US senators his company is in a constant battle with Russian operators seeking to exploit the social network.

Mark Zuckerberg didn't really screw up. Not this time, at least.

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On Tuesday, the Facebook CEO testified in front of a rare US Senate joint committee hearing. The subject: Facebook's mounting scandals, from the misappropriation of up to 87 million users' profile data by Cambridge Analytica to Russia's use the platform to spread propaganda and misinformation.

"This is an arms race. They're going to keep getting better," he said.

He also revealed Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, had interviewed Facebook staff. Zuckerberg said he has not been among those interviewed by Mr. Mueller's office.

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But he added: "Our work with the special counsel is confidential and I want to make sure that in an open session I'm not revealing something that's confidential."

There are people in Russia whose job it is to try to exploit our systems and other internet systems and other systems as well. We need to invest in getting better at this too."

The Facebook chief fended off questions from senators about how the social network might be regulated more closely.

Senator John Kennedy warned him: "I don't want to have to vote to regulate Facebook. But by God, I will. That depends on you... Your user agreement sucks."

When pressed, the 33-year-old billionaire tech titan said he would welcome regulation, if it was the "right regulation," though he avoided specifics.

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During the hearing, Mr. Zuckerberg also said:

"It's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm"

"In retrospect it was clearly a mistake" to believe Cambridge Analytica deleted data, without further examination

He does not "feel like" Facebook has a monopoly

That there would always be a free version of Facebook, leaving open the possibility of a paid, ad-free version of the social network

Dealing with hate speech automatically has "a higher error rate than I am happy with"

He was personally concerned about the possibility of political bias at the company

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By the first break in proceedings, Facebook's share price had risen by almost 5%, as markets reacted favorably to Mr. Zuckerberg's performance, increasing his net worth by an estimated $3bn.

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