Skip to content

Senator Hassan Presses Mark Zuckerberg on the Tension Between Facebook’s Profits and Its Users’ Privacy and Well-Being

WASHINGTON – As a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Senator Maggie Hassan yesterday questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the joint Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees hearing titled, “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data.”


During her questioning, the Senator pressed Mr. Zuckerberg on the tension between Facebook’s business model and its users’ privacy and well-being – expressing her skepticism that Facebook will ever truly be able to make necessary changes to protect Americans’ privacy and well-being absent Congress stepping in to safeguard consumers.  


Click here for a link to the full video of Senator Hassan’s questioning and see below for coverage highlights:


Wall Street Journal: Hassan Sees 'Tension' Between Facebook Users, Profits

By Siobhan Hughes


Sen. Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.) comes close to puncturing the image that Facebook has projected of a company on a mission do achieve social good. Her remarks crystallize some themes that other lawmakers have circled around.


"I'm concerned that Facebook's profitability rests on two potentially problematic foundations," Ms. Hassan says. "The foundations are maximizing the amount of time people spend on your products and collecting people's data."


She cites Facebook's own corporate filings, and says, "There's clearly tension, as other senators have pointed out, between your bottom line and what's best for your users."


Mr. Zuckerberg delivers responses that are similar to what he has told other lawmakers, saying that when people post on Facebook and are actively engaged, measures of well-being are better.


Ms. Hassan notes that Mr. Zuckerberg has said that Facebook's mission is to bring the world closer together. "You've said that you will never prioritize advertisers over that mission," she says.


"We've heard you apologize numerous times and promise to change, but here we are again," Ms Hassan says. "I really firmly believe in free enterprise, but when private companies are unwilling or unable to do what is necessary, public officials have historically in every industry stepped up to protect our constituents and consumers."


She continued, "I believe that you believe that but at the end of the day your business model does prioritize advertisers over the mission."


WBZ Radio: Sen. Hassan Wants More Than Just Apology From Zuckerberg

By Kim Tunnicliffe

New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe she has grave concerns about Facebook that go beyond the Cambridge Analytica scandal.


"It's not just about whether companies got unauthorized access to people's data," Hassan said. "It's also about what Facebook actually allows companies to do with people's data."


Sen. Hassan said she wants to hear more than just an apology from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the second day of his Congressional inquisition--she wants facts and information about Facebook's role in the scandal.


The senator would also like to hear a firm commitment and plan of action for how the company will better protect the privacy of its users.


"We need to use today to not only get information, but get commitments from Mr. Zuckerberg, and really find out what steps the company will concretely take, or whether we need to make sure we are protecting consumers and our democracy by coming forward with some standards and rules and laws of our own," Hassan said.


She is one of the Democratic lawmakers floating the idea of federal regulations for Facebook and other social media sites.


"I am concerned that, without intervention by either Congress or the FTC or both, that the comapany won't make changes that it really needs to make," she said.


NBC News: Did Facebook have the right incentives?

By Jonathan Allen


Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., told Zuckerberg she wants to look into creating financial penalties for companies that don’t protect consumers’ private information.


“There is little incentive, whether it’s Facebook or Equifax, to actually be aggressive in protecting customer privacy,” said Hassan. “We’ve heard apologies but there is no financial incentive.” Zuckerberg said he’d look forward to a discussion of financial penalties, but he took issue with the idea that Facebook hasn’t felt pain.


“This episode has clearly hurt us,” he said. […]


LA Times: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg pressed on company's data practices, terms of service and role in violence in Myanmar

By Evan Halper, David Pierson, and Tracey Lien


[…] Rounding out the five-hour hearing, senators asked questions about the tension between what's best for Facebook's bottom line and what's best for its users.


"Why should we think Facebook on its own should be able to make the changes needed?" said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).


In response, Zuckerberg said he was willing to work with regulators to craft laws that protect user privacy.


"Even if that results in some laws that will require you to adjust your business model?" Hassan asked.


"Yes," Zuckerberg said.