Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a fusillade of questions during his second day of congressional testimony Wednesday, showing signs of testiness during some sharp exchanges with House lawmakers.
Zuckerberg appeared particularly on edge during a tense back-and-forth with Representative Kathy Castor, who asked about Facebooks practice of collecting data on people who arent even users.
“Youre collecting medical data, correct, on people who are on the internet, whether theyre Facebook users or not?” Castor asked. “Congresswoman, yes,” Zuckerberg said in an uneasy tone, before she cut him off.
“Its practically impossible these days to remain untracked in America, for all the good Facebook and the internet has brought,” Castor concluded. “And thats not part of the bargain.”
The moments of tension contrasted with Zuckerbergs relatively smooth ride during Tuesdays marathon Senate hearing, where he earned high marks for comfortably parrying questions from 40-plus lawmakers.
House Democrats on the energy & commerce committee drilled the CEO more aggressively about his companys privacy practices, often focusing on revelations that Cambridge Analytica, the data firm linked to Donald Trumps presidential campaign, improperly obtained information on as many as 87 million Facebook users.
At one point, under questioning from Representative Anna Eshoo, Zuckerberg appeared to concede his own personal information was among the data swept up by Cambridge Analytica. He answered yes when Eshoo asked if his information had been sold to “malicious third parties.” Facebook declined to clarify the CEOs remarks.
Majority Whip Steve Scalise sought to advance a Republican argument that Democrats engaged in the same sort of data abuses that are at the center of the Cambridge Analytica controversy.
He asked Zuckerberg if his company allowed extreme uses of Facebook user data by the 2012 Obama campaign, citing a series of March tweets by Obama campaign official Carol Davidsen.
“We didnt allow the Obama campaign to do anything that any developer on the platform wouldnt have otherwise been able to do,” Zuckerberg said. “No special treatment.”
The questioning often veered into topics unrelated to data privacy and Russian election interference, which have dominated headlines about Facebook for months. Republicans repeatedly raised their suspicions that the social network is biased against conservative views.
A number of Republican members pressed Zuckerberg on his companys treatment of pro-Trump social media stars Diamond and Silk. The pair, who have complained for months that the social network is hobbling distribution of their videos, said last week they received a notice from Facebook that their content was deemed “unsafe to the community.”
“In that specific case, our team made an enforcement error and we have already gotten in touch with them to reverse it,” Zuckerberg told Representative Joe Barton.
The CEO was also asked about issues ranging from Facebooks approach to discriminatory housing ads to prescription drug sales on the social network to the diversity of its workforce.
Representativ. G.K. Butterfield, a member of the congressional Black Caucus, pressed Zuckerberg to explain why none of the five individuals listed as part of the companys leadership team are African-American.
“We have a broader leadership than just five people,” the CEO said.
“Not on your website,” Butterfield retorted. “We can do better than that.”
Zuckerberg began the hearing by apologizing to House members for the Cambridge Analytica controversy, in the same words he had used at the Senate hearing the day before.
“We didnt take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” he said. “It was my mistake, and Im sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and Im responsible for what happens here.”
House energy & commerce Chairman Greg Walden, in his opening statement, said hes concerned that Facebook has gotten ahead of itself.
“While Facebook has certainly grown, I worry it has not matured. I think it is time to ask whether Facebook may have moved too fast and broken too many things,” Walden said. “There are critical, unanswered questions surrounding Facebooks business model and the entire digital ecosystem regarding online privacy and consumer protection.”
Nancy Scola contributed to this report.