Speed Reads

zuck in the spotlight

Lawmakers grilling Zuckerberg have received thousands of dollars in political donations from Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent five hours testifying before the Senate on Tuesday, answering questions about Facebook's handling of a privacy breach that affected as many as 87 million Facebook users. He will undergo several more hours of grilling by members of the House on Wednesday.

But while some of the questions about user privacy made Zuckerberg squirm, it doesn't mean that Facebook and these lawmakers are adversaries. In fact, Facebook has contributed around $7 million to various political campaigns in the last 12 years, The Verge notes, and many of these donations were to the very same lawmakers who faced off with Zuckerberg this week.

Facebook has donated a total of $641,685 to lawmakers who questioned Zuckerberg, data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows, as reported by The Verge. The social media giant has given Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who asked Zuckerberg about a Facebook function that had allowed advertisers to filter out viewers by race, $44,025 since 2014. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has received $15,200 from Facebook since 2014, asked about Facebook's business model and seemed to agree that sharing user data for advertising purposes was the best way to monetize the platform.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who represents Silicon Valley's district and was among the first House members to question Zuckerberg on Wednesday, told the executive that Facebook's privacy breach had done "incalculable" damage to democracy and said the platform's "enabling of manipulation" was very dangerous. Eshoo has taken $39,800 from Facebook since 2014.

Given that political donations didn't seem to prevent legislators from asking the tough questions, maybe Zuckerberg should have had his company pony up a bit more cash? Read more at The Verge.