Billionaire Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg testified on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees that he regrets not identifying Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and he’s discussed the data breach with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. An explosive report was released on March 16 alleging that approximately 87 million Facebook profiles were used by a London-based political consulting firm called Cambridge Analytica to sway that year’s ballot. Cambridge Analytica oversaw President Donald Trump’s digital efforts during that campaign. The firm purportedly collected Facebook users’ information to establish targeted political advertising efforts to help Trump prevail over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“One of my greatest regrets in running the company is that we were slow in identifying the Russian information operations in 2016,” the 33-year-old Zuckerberg told California Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein. “We expected them to do a number of more traditional cyberattacks which we did identify. But we were slow (detecting) new operations.”
Zuckerberg, who sold nearly 2.7 million of his social network’s shares valued at $482.2 million in February, also apologized to his site’s users and promised to better protect their privacy henceforth.
“It’s not enough to just give people a voice,” Zuckerberg said.
“We need to make sure that people aren’t using it to harm other people or spread misinformation and not enough to give people control over their information, we need to make sure that the developers they share it with protect their information too. Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure that they are used for good. it will take some time to work through all the changes we need to make across the company.”
Since the report surfaced, Facebook’s taken a handful of measures to enhance its privacy settings and secure users’ data. While Zuckerberg was testifying before Congress, Cambridge Analytica proclaimed its innocence via Twitter.
“Cambridge Analytica is primarily a data science consultancy and marketing agency focused on commercial clients,” tweeted the data-mining firm.
“Our politics division works globally with campaigns on the center-left and center-right. We did not hack Facebook or break any laws – SCL Elections licensed data from a research company called GSR which obtained the data via a tool provided by Facebook, a common practice at the time.”
Zuckerberg will appear again on Capitol Hill tomorrow morning.