The entire world is currently eyeing Mark Zuckerberg who is Facebook’s chief executive as he testify’s before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday to answer questions about the social network’s failure to protect the data of millions of its users and its role in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. While there are many claims being made by Zuckerberg and the lawmakers, not all of them are factually correct or stand without proper context which both parties are failing to provide.
NY Times took it upon themselves to provide readers with statement wise fact-checks on both sides, but here we talk about the biggest lies that came out of Zuckerberg’s mouth and the half truth’s that he tried to spin in order to get out of further escalation. Here are some of Mr. Zuckerberg’s claims, as well as some claims from the lawmakers, which were fact-checked.
When asked when Facebook learned of Russian influence operations on the social network, Zuckerberg said, “Right around the time of the 2016 election itself.”
This is one of the biggest lies and contradictions that Zuckerberg made during the testimony. Facebook had long maintained that it did not learn about how Russian agents had used its platform to influence the presidential election until the summer of 2017. But, Facebook’s chief information officer, Alex Stamos warned the company that Russian hackers may have been active on the platform in the summer of 2016, when he was looking at cybersecurity breaches, not disinformation campaigns tied to the elections. Tuesday was the first time that Zuckerberg stated 2016 as the date when the company identified new operations linked to the election.
“Cambridge Analytica wasn’t using our services in 2015 as far as we can tell.”
Zuckerberg tries to again burrow his way away from Cambridge Analytica but fell into a pit by saying this. Former employees of Cambridge Analytica had already told The New York Times multiple times over the course of the controversy that they were using Facebook as early as 2014.
“We made changes in 2014 that would have prevented what happened with Cambridge Analytica from happening today.”
Again, Zuckerberg chooses to omit a crucial detail from this statement where Facebook did announce changes in 2014 to limit the access that new apps had to data about its users, but it was not until 2015 that the company rolled out the changes to affect all of the apps on the platform. Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm, used information that had been harvested from as many as 87 million Facebook users several years ago to build psychological profiles of voters using exactly that.
“You’re not allowed to have a fake account on Facebook. Your content has to be authentic.”
While this might be true but Facebook only requires people to register for accounts with their real names which is why fake accounts and false pages have persisted on the network. Russian agents set up accounts on Facebook with false identities before the 2016 presidential election. And just this week, Facebook removed a popular Black Lives Matter page after it was discovered to be inauthentic.
When asked whether Facebook users and their friends had knowingly consented to sharing their data with Kogan’s app, Mr. Zuckerberg said, “I believe that we rolled out this developer platform and that we explained to people how it worked and they did consent to it.”
Zuckerberg again lied through his teeth because while Facebook users who downloaded Mr. Kogan’s quiz app did consent to share their own and their friends’ information by agreeing to the app’s terms and conditions, their friends were not aware that their information had been shared and did not knowingly grant permission.
“We already have a ‘Download Your Information’ tool that allows people to see and take out all the information they’ve put into Facebook.”
While Zuckerberg is right about the availability of this tool, it was recently introduced. The tool allows people to download data that Facebook has collected on them but the tool appears to be incomplete. Some people have noticed that some data are missing, such as a long-forgotten feature of Facebook that lets you “poke” people. Facebook now allows users to opt-out of certain categories of data, including deciding what is shared with advertisers. But certain basic data will always be shared with the company unless a Facebook account is permanently deleted by the user.
“I don’t believe we’ve ever collected the content of phone calls.”
In this case, Zuckerberg is just clueless about what is happening on their website because while Facebook doesn’t collect the content of phone calls, it has been collecting call records and SMS data from Android devices that have the Facebook app installed. Android users who recently downloaded the data that Facebook stores about them were surprised to learn that the company had information on their entire call history, going back years. Facebook recently explained in a blog post that users can opt out of Facebook collecting this data.