Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg leaves a meeting with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 9, 2018.
Zuckerberg will testify amid backlash over the revelation that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica may have misused the personal information of up to 87 million people. Nelson said he found Zuckerberg “forthright and honest to the degree that he could” be during their meeting.
The Facebook CEO also aims to assure lawmakers the company is doing enough to combat the spread of misinformation on its platform. Facebook has acknowledged that about 126 million people may have seen misleading content from a Russian agency around the time of the 2016 election.
Several lawmakers have pushed for tougher regulation of social media companies. In his testimony this week, Zuckerberg plans to say Facebook supports the Honest Ads Act, proposed legislation which aims to better disclose the source of political advertising. He will also highlight Facebook’s efforts so far to limit data developers can access and delete fake accounts from the platform.
The Facebook CEO may have to take “a lot more action in the future,” Nelson said.
“My sense is that he takes it seriously because he knows that there is going to be a hard look at regulation,” the senator said. “If it’s not his site, someone else can be misused for people who are trying to do us harm. And I believe he understands that regulation could be right around the corner.”
Despite some momentum for passing a bill, Congress is unlikely to do so this year as lawmakers prepare for the upcoming midterm elections. Nelson said the jurisdiction of federal agencies complicates matters: he thinks the Federal Communications Commission, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, should have a role in regulating social media platforms.
Zuckerberg was also expected to meet with Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
Zuckerberg testifies before both of those Senate panels Tuesday, followed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.