Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took center stage Tuesday, testifying before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees amid the data privacy controversy that has befallen his company.
Zuckerberg is under intense scrutiny following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Trump's campaign, improperly obtained and shared personal data from up to 87 million Facebook users. Most senators asked challenging questions in an often tense hearing, probing Zuckerberg as to whether Facebook would be open to more federal regulation or pointing out how Zuckerberg himself values his personal privacy in a way that his social network may not.
But not every question constituted a good grilling.
Some questions amounted to little more than senators asking for an explanation of Facebook's basic functions and policies, prompting Zuckerberg to spend a healthy amount of time explaining the internet. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), for example, asked Zuckerberg how Facebook could survive as a business without charging users a fee.
"Senator, we run ads," explained the CEO.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), meanwhile, presented a hypothetical situation in which he enjoys chocolate, but doesn't want to see ads for chocolate on Facebook. If he talks about his love of chocolate, is there any way for him to avoid ads about the delicious sweet? Zuckerberg responded that targeted ads are simply a part of Facebook's basic user agreement — and are commonplace in general on the internet.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) then wanted to know whether Facebook could track a user's browsing history even when logged out of the site. Zuckerberg provided an explanation of how cookies work on the internet. The hearing lasted more than four hours, as lawmakers took turns questioning the Facebook executive. Zuckerberg will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.