Hudson Questions Facebook's Zuckerberg on Privacy and Conservative Bias

April 11, 2018
Hudson Questions Facebook’s Zuckerberg on Privacy and Conservative Bias
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08) questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. Rep. Hudson sought answers about what standards Facebook uses to censor content and how they are enforced, constituents’ personal privacy concerns, and what the company is doing to protect personal user data – particularly when it comes to the information of those who serve in the Armed Forces.
Click here to watch Rep. Hudson’s questioning.
Read the full exchange below:
Rep. Hudson: Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg, for being here. This is a long day. You're here voluntarily, and we sure appreciate you being here. I can say from my own experience, I've hosted two events with Facebook in my district in North Carolina, working with small business and finding ways they can increase their customer base on Facebook, and it’s been very beneficial to us. So I thank you for that. I do want to pivot slightly and frame the discussion in another light for my question. One of the greatest honors I have is I represent the men and women of Fort Bragg, epicenter of the universe, home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces. You visited last year.
Mr. Zuckerberg: I did. 
Rep. Hudson: Very well received. So you understand that due to the sensitive nature of some of the operations these soldiers conduct that many are discouraged  or even prohibited from having a social media presence. However, there are others who still have profiles, there are some who may have deleted their profiles upon entering military service. Many have family members who have Facebook profiles. And as we've learned, each one of these users’ information may have been shared without their consent. There's no way Facebook can guarantee the safety of this information on another company's server if they sell this information. If private information could be gathered by apps without explicit consent of the user, they're almost asking to be hacked. Are you aware of the national security concerns that would come from allowing those who seek to harm our nation access to information such as the geographical location of members of our Armed Services? Is this something you're looking at?
Mr. Zuckerberg: Congressman, I’m not specifically aware of that threat, but in general there are a number of national security and election integrity type issues that we focus on and we try to take a very broad view of that, and the more input that we can get from the intelligence community, as well, encouraging us to look into specific things, the more effectively we can do that work. 
Rep. Hudson: I'd love to follow-up with you on that. It's been said many times here that you refer to Facebook as a platform of all ideas – or a platform for all ideas. I know you've heard from many yesterday and today about concerns regarding Facebook’s censorship of content, particularly content that may promote Christian beliefs or conservative political beliefs. I have to bring up Diamond and Silk again because they're actually from my district. I think you’ve addressed these concerns, but I think it’s also become very apparent, and I hope it’s become very apparent to you that this is a very serious concern. I actually asked on my Facebook page for my constituents to give me ideas of things they'd like me to ask you today and the most common question was about personal privacy. So this is something that I think there is an issue. There's an issue that your company in terms of trust with consumers, I think you need to deal with. I think you recognize that based on your testimony today.
But my question to you is, what is the standard that Facebook uses to determine what is offensive or controversial and how's that standard been applied across Facebook’s platform?
Mr. Zuckerberg: Congressman, this is an important question. There are a couple of standards. The strongest one is things that will cause physical harm or threats of physical harm, but then there's a broader standard of hate speech and speech that might make people feel just broadly uncomfortable or unsafe in the community.
Rep. Hudson: That's probably the most difficult to define. So I guess my question is how do you apply -- what standards do you apply to try to determine what's hate speech versus what’s just speech you may disagree with?
Mr. Zuckerberg: Congressman, that's a very important question and I think is one that we struggle with continuously and the question of what is hate speech versus what is legitimate political speech, is I think something that we get criticized both from the left and the right on what the definitions are that we have. It is -- it's nuanced and what we try to -- we try to lay this out in our community standards which are public documents that we can make sure that you and your office get to look through the definitions on this. But this is an area where I think society’s sensibilities are also shifting quickly.
Rep. Hudson: I’m running out of time here. I hate to cut you off. But let me just say that based on the statistics Mr. Scalise shared and the anecdotes we can provide you, it seems like there's still a challenge when it comes to conservative speech and I hope you’ll address that.
Mr. Zuckerberg: I agree.
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