WASHINGTON (AP) - Apologetic Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told senators Tuesday it had been â€śclearly a mistakeâ€ť to believe the Trump-linked data-mining company Cambridge Analytica had discarded data that it had harvested from social media users in an attempt to sway 2016 elections.
Zuckerberg told members of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees that Facebook considered the data collection â€śa closed caseâ€ť because it thought the information had been deleted. Facebook didnâ€™t alert the Federal Trade Commission, Zuckerberg said, and he assured senators the company would handle the situation differently today.
On another issue currently in the news, he was asked whether his company had been contacted by the office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russian interference in the election.
â€śYes,â€ť he said, â€śI know that we are working with them.â€ť He provided no other details, saying he wanted to be careful not to break any rules of confidentiality.
Earlier this year Mueller charged 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies in a plot to interfere in the presidential election through a social media propaganda effort that included online ad purchases using U.S. aliases and politicking on U.S. soil. Some of the Russian ads were on Facebook.
Zuckerberg began a two-day congressional inquisition with a public apology for the privacy scandal that has shaken the social media giant he founded more than a decade ago. He took responsibility for failing to prevent Cambridge Analytica, a firm affiliated with Donald Trumpâ€™s presidential campaign, from gathering personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections.
Zuckerberg had apologized many times already, to users and the public, but this was the first time in his career that he had gone before Congress. He also is to testify Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the Commerce Committee chairman, told Zuckerberg his company has a 14-year history of apologizing for â€śill-advised decisionsâ€ť related to user privacy. â€śHow is todayâ€™s apology differentâ€ť Thune asked.
â€śWe have made a lot of mistakes in running the company,â€ť Zuckerberg responded. â€śI think itâ€™s pretty much impossible, I believe, to start a company in your dorm room and then grow it to be at the scale that weâ€™re at now without making some mistakes.â€ť