Zuckerberg's testimony before the US Congress

Members of Congress have spent two days questioning Mark Zuckerberg about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Was Facebook's founder able to repair the image of his life's work?

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republica.ro (RO) /

Facebook shares jump

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg could benefit from the data protection scandal in the long run, IT specialist and Romanian politician Andrei Postolache writes in Blog republica.ro:

“Mark can enjoy himself. Who wouldn't like to have half of the US Congress crowding around you. ... He just needs to take care not to say anything stupid and then the hearings will help him to boost his image. A number of problems will be cleared up, a few worries will disappear, share prices will rise and he'll emerge as the winner. ... The company will close a gap in its data protection that it allowed to exist for a long time without doing anything about it. Now, under external pressure, it is tackling the problem.”

Avvenire (IT) /

China rubbing its hands in glee

Zuckerberg warned during his hearing against taking too hard a line with the US Internet giants, pointing to rising competition from China. Avvenire says he has a point:

“Of course Zuckerberg's warning was motivated by self-interest, but he's not entirely wrong. In the digital world there's not just Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft but a few other giants too. And all of them are Chinese. ... Moreover, the Chinese digital giants have acquired huge stakes in American companies in recent years, both in the video game sector and in e-commerce. ... So the masters of the digital world don't just speak American. Many of them follow 'Chinese rules'. ... Reconciling democracy and profitable business, hegemonial ambitions and political competition, the defence of freedom of expression and censorship, won't be an easy undertaking.”

The Economist (GB) /

Self-control not enough

Facebook should have its practices assessed by independent investigators, The Economist urges:

“An internal investigation into how third-party apps have been using Facebook users' data is not enough to restore trust: it should appoint an outside firm to conduct a full independent examination of its own conduct. That would help address lingering questions; Cambridge Analytica may be just one of many such outfits to have got hold of user data, for example. The appointment of an independent chairman would be another way to improve the quality of debate and scrutiny within Facebook.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Politicians disgraced themselves

The members of Congress made fools of themselves at Mark Zuckerberg's hearing, Der Standard concludes:

“Senator Orrin Hatch asked in all seriousness how Facebook is financed. ... Senator John Kennedy called for measures that Facebook has long since announced. Senator Maria Cantwell's questions confused Zuckerberg as well as journalists and onlookers. Senator Bill Nelson asked why he received advertisements for chocolate. All in all, the representatives of the US people came across as a technically inept group while Mark Zuckerberg was able to evade responsibility with phrases he had learned by heart and apologetic gestures. This could be symbolic of the relationship between politics and technology - and it shows how important the election of members of Congress who deal intensively with technological innovations is.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Like communicating with extraterrestrials

The senators and the Facebook generation inhabit entirely different realities, Vittorio Zucconi observes:

“There isn't a translator in this world who could make it possible for an 80-year-old senator who was elected when Zuckerberg hadn't even been born and the prodigy who seems like a being from a distant galaxy to understand each other. ... The drama we watched unfold over the two pointless days of this show marks the return of what was referred to 30 years ago as the 'generation gap'. As Zuckerberg returns to his far-away planet, Silicon Valley, the old earthlings are creeping back into their cave and trying to make sense of a world in which algorithms aren't a new dance form.”

Milliyet (TR) /

Facebook not the only one to blame

Zuckerberg's hearing won't have much of an impact, Milliyet believes:

“It's not only Facebook that has all our data. Google, Instagram and Twitter know plenty about us too, even if it's just the number of steps we take, thanks to the MyFitnessPal app. In this situation it doesn't make sense to hold Zuckerberg responsible for the entire Internet just because his company is the largest [sic]. Instead, experts on the topic should get together and work on measures to ensure that our data on Facebook and other apps is protected and then present universally applicable laws that make these measures binding. That's the real priority. Neither Zuckerberg's testimony before the Senate nor deleting the Facebook app provide a solution to the problem.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Pay with cash, not with our private sphere

Facebook should introduce a pay per use model, Jutarnji list argues:

“Facebook is a business, and without some form of making money it couldn't survive. Its current business model - and that of much of the Internet - was developed over years and is based on the noble and idealistic idea that everything on the web must be for free for everyone. Over time, however, the current circumstances have developed. And the situation resembles that in which a salesman is set on selling you pots and pans because he's heard from someone that you cook every day. Consequently we must make a decision - do we want to pay with our private sphere, or with cash?”