WASHINGTON, DC (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook is under fire in the worst privacy crisis in its history after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, gathered personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections.
Zuckerberg met Monday with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce panel. Nelson said afterward that Zuckerberg was “forthright and honest to the degree he could” be in the private, one-on-one meeting.
“My sense is that he takes it seriously because he knows there is going to be a hard look at regulation,” Nelson said.
Nelson and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune asked Zuckerberg to testify to “restore lost trust” in the company.
Zuckerberg spent Tuesday assuring lawmakers he has learned a lot since starting the social network in his Harvard dorm room 14 years ago.
The roughly 2.2 billion people now using Facebook can only hope Zuckerberg’s views on personal privacy have changed.
Not long after Zuckerberg started Facebook while he was still 19 years old, he mocked the people entrusting him with their emails, pictures and other sensitive information while instant messaging with a friend. The exchange was obtained and published in 2010 by Business Insider.
After his friends asked him how he obtained so much information about 4,000 people, Zuckerberg said they “trust me” and then described people as “dumb” for doing it, punctuated with a profanity.
Zuckerberg later apologized for the remarks in a 2010 interview with “The New Yorker” and said he had “learned and grown a lot.”
Separately, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post Monday that the company is establishing an independent election research commission that will look into the effects of social media on elections and democracy.
He said the commission will work with foundations across the U.S. to set up a committee of academic experts who will come up with research topics and select independent researchers to study them.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company wouldn’t necessarily know if someone set up a shell corporation to run political ads in the U.S. to skirt the company’s verification process.
The company announced recently that it would require political advertisers — and those running so-called political “issue ads” — to verify who they are and that they have a physical address. Facebook would verify this by asking for a government-issued ID and by mailing a special code to the advertiser’s physical address to verify it.
Zuckerberg was responding to questions by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, who asked how the company is able to verify the “true beneficiary” of a site that is putting out political material.
Tuesday’s congressional hearing is the first of two Zuckerberg faces this week to answer questions about Facebook’s privacy protections and other issues.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)