The low-awaited testimony of Mark Zuckerberg before Congress went off with relatively little drama on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The Facebook CEO used his five hours in front of top government officials to apologize for mistakes that he and his social media company made in handling data and user privacy. Zuckerberg reiterated that Facebook leaders are reexamining its responsibility to its users, the field of technology, and society in general. The hearings were called as a result of last month’s bombshell revelation that data mining company Cambridge Analytica received the personal information of millions of Facebook users and utilized it as a means to influence the outcome of the 2016 United States Presidential Election.
During the hearing, Zuckerberg fielded a myriad of questions regarding Facebook’s data collection views as well as the social media giant’s alleged monopoly on its market space. A total of 44 Senators were allowed to question Zuckerberg, making it one of the highest number of Senatorial participants in a hearing of this nature. Each Senator was only given five minutes to question Zuckerberg and as a result, there was limited opportunity for follow-up questions. Zuckerberg used his time in front of the eyes of millions to admit to his mistakes and attempt to reassure users that he is going to use this opportunity to take a more proactive role in how Facebook shapes the entire sector when it comes to protecting data.
After weeks of shaky performance in the stock market on the heels of the news of the data breach, Facebook stock finished the day up 4.5 percent, suggesting that investors approved of Zuckerberg’s performance on the hot seat. Leading into Tuesday’s hearing, Facebook had lost billions of dollars over the last month in the wake of the scandal. However, the crisis is far from over for Facebook’s public relations team. Zuckerberg will testify for the second day in a row when he stands before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday to answer additional questions.