Zuckerberg appears in Congress as Facebook faces scrutiny

WASHINGTON (AP) – Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg is again appearing before United States (US) Congress to face questions about his company’s massive market power, privacy lapses and tolerance of speech deemed false or hateful.

Zuckerberg was summoned to testify at a hearing yesterday by the House Financial Services Committee on Facebook’s plan to create a global digital currency, which has stirred opposition from lawmakers and regulators in the US and Europe.

But the full range of policies and conduct of the social media giant with nearly 2.5 billion users will be under the public glare. It’s the Facebook chief’s first testimony to Congress since April 2018.

The company seems to spark public and official anger at every turn these days, from its shift into messaging services that allow encrypted conversations to its alleged anticompetitive behaviour to its refusal to take down phony political ads or doctored videos.

Lawmakers from both parties and top regulators – including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell – have criticised Facebook’s plan for the new currency, to be called Libra. They warn that it could be used for illicit activity such as money laundering or drug trafficking.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote speech at F8, Facebook’s developer conference, in San Jose, California. PHOTO: AP