VIDEO – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted Tuesday that he failed to protect the privacy of users whose personal data could be used for political purposes, while defending a “safe” global network.

For his first long-awaited appearance before a joint Senate committee, he answered for several hours the questions of parliamentarians worried about “breach of trust” of the social network. It must also be heard Wednesday in the House of Representatives. Moving away from the image of the “geek” uncomfortable in public, the 33-year-old multi-billionaire answered in detail the majority of questions from parliamentarians, some of whom showed a lack of knowledge of the technological issues of the debate. “We do not sell data,” he said several times, denying that the group is a monitoring tool.Zuckerberg’s political marathon is not over, as he will be auditioned again in Congress on Wednesday, this time by the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

“A big mistake”

The social network, created in 2004, according to the elect failed to protect the personal data of the users and allowed political manipulations. The controversy took a resounding turn in mid-March with the outbreak of the scandal Cambridge Analytica (CA). Regaining the trust of its users is crucial for the group because its business model is based on the exploitation of personal data, which allow advertisers to target their advertising messages. “We did not take a large enough measure of our responsibilities and it was a big mistake, it was my mistake and I’m sorry,” he said, his voice full of emotion. “It is obvious today that we have not done enough to prevent these tools from being misused”,

The data of some 87 million users ended up in the hands of the UK data analytics firm before Facebook began to introduce restrictions in 2014. CA then worked for the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign in the United States. 2016, Donald Trump. The group with more than two billion users is also accused of having served as a tool of misinformation and political manipulation, orchestrated according to US intelligence by the Kremlin in order to favor the election of Donald Trump at the White House . Moscow has always denied. Mark Zuckerberg assured that his company was engaged in “an arms race” against “people in Russia whose job is to

Earlier, he had admitted that he had not prevented enough false information from spreading during the last election campaign. “After the 2016 elections, our priority was to protect the integrity of other elections around the world,” he said. He also confirmed – without specifying how – that Facebook was cooperating in the investigation of the special prosecutor Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the campaign. Some parliamentarians said they decided to legislate to better manage Facebook and Internet groups in general. “If Facebook and other social networks do not repair or do not want to fix intrusions into privacy, we will, we, the Congress,” warned Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.

The right to confidentiality

“No,” Mark Zuckerberg would not like everyone to know what hotel he is staying in, acknowledged Facebook boss on Tuesday in response to a US senator who sought to make him recognize the attachment of users to their private data. “Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel where you stayed last night?” Democrat Senator Dick Durbin asked the young leader, who responded already for more than two hours to senators’ questions, largely devoted to the protection of private data, at the heart of the scandal Cambridge Analytica. Surprised by the question but obviously amused, Mark Zuckerberg replied “hum, um … no”, arousing the laughter of the audience. And

“No, I probably would not choose to share this with you here,” Zuckerberg said, before Rick Durbin explained the meaning of his questions. “I think we are at the heart of the subject: the right to confidentiality, the limits of the right to confidentiality (…) It is the question of what information Facebook collects, to whom it sends it and if he first asked permission to do so “. “I think everyone should be able to control how their information is used,” replied Zuckerberg.

“A philosophical transformation”

“We are going through a great philosophical change in society,” Zuckerberg said. The boss of Facebook has in passing disputed the fact that with its two billion users, his company is in a situation of monopoly. “It’s certainly not what I feel,” he said. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transport, quickly went on the offensive. “In the past, many of my colleagues on both sides of the congregation were willing to let technology companies do self-regulation, but that could change,” he said. Zuckerberg retorted that stricter regulation could complicate the creation of new start-ups, while acknowledging that Facebook’s response

With a speaking time limited to 5 minutes, like the other 43 elected officials attending the hearing, Kamala Harris, Senator of the State of California where Facebook has its headquarters, insisted if the company intended to inform users siphoning their personal data. She was not convinced by the answer: “Mark Zuckerberg’s inability to answer several crucial questions during his appearance before the Senate today did not remove my doubts about the value Facebook places on trust. and transparency, “she wrote on Twitter.

Not a “monopoly”

Mark Zuckerberg said he would support a regulation “if it is good”. He also assured that Facebook would still have a free version and felt that the platform was not “a monopoly”. He repeated to senators the past or future measures to rectify past mistakes. Before the start of this first hearing, Facebook announced that it would reward people who report misuse of personal data by third-party applications.

Facebook began Monday to inform its users whose data could arrive at CA. The group will also verify the identity of individuals or organizations broadcasting electoral or political messages, clarify the parameters of confidentiality or collaborate with independent researchers on its influence in elections and democracy.

A lawsuit was filed Tuesday in a court in Delaware (Northeast) by US and British users claiming that the social network has “failed to protect” the personal information of more than 80 million people in the United States. United States and the United Kingdom.