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Mark Zuckerberg's testimony to Congress: Facebook boss admits company working with Mueller's Russia probe

Hannah Boland

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, disclosed on Tuesday his company was "working with" special counsel Robert Mueller in the federal probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and likened his firm's attempts to tackle foreign election meddling to an "arms race".

The founder of the social media giant appeared before US lawmakers to apologise for how his company has handled the growing furor over online privacy, to promise change, and explain the social media giant's policies.

The wide-ranging questions - including about Cambridge Analytica, which used data scraped from 87 million Facebook users to target political ads ahead of the 2016 US election - put the 33-year-old billionaire under a microscope for nearly five hours at a joint Senate committee hearing.

Mr Zuckerberg told the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees that he has not been personally interviewed by Mr Mueller's team, but "I know we're working with them." He offered no details, citing a concern about confidentiality rules of the investigation.

Facebook | Mark Zuckerberg faces Congress

Earlier this year Mr Mueller charged 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies in a plot to interfere in the 2016 presidential election through a social media propaganda effort that included online ad purchases using US aliases and politicking on US soil. A number of the Russian ads were on Facebook.

"One of my greatest regrets in running the company is that we were slow in identifying the Russian information operations in 2016," Mr Zuckerberg said.

"There are people in Russia whose job it is to try to exploit our systems and other internet systems.... So this is an arms race. They're going to keep getting better and we need to invest in getting better at this too."

Mr Zuckerberg was summoned by Congress after the news broke in March that a British-based political campaign company, Cambridge Analytica, had improperly seized information using a quiz app that stored information from the profiles not only of those who downloaded the app, but their friends too.  Cambridge Analytica counted Donald Trump's election campaign among its clients.

The controversy has brought a flood of bad publicity and sent the company's stock value plunging. He seemed to achieve a measure of success: on Tuesday as Facebook shares surged 4.5 percent for the day, the biggest gain in two years.

'A privacy nightmare'

Bill Nelson, a Democrat senator, told Mr Zuckerberg: "If you and Facebook don't get your act together none of us are going to have any privacy any more. How can consumers trust you folks to be caretakers of their most personal information?"

John Thune, the Republican chairman of the commerce committee, told the Facebook chief: "The story that you created represents the American dream. Many are inspired by what you have done. But at the same time it's up to you to ensure it does not become a privacy nightmare."

Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook "didn't do enough" to protect data privacy.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg listens during a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington Credit: AFP

He said: "We’re going to be investigating many apps, tens of thousands of apps. And if we find any suspicious activity we’re going to conduct a full audit of those apps to understand how they’re using their data and if they’re doing anything improper."

In a public apology Mr Zuckerberg added: "We have made a lot of mistakes in running the company. It's pretty impossible to start a company in your dorm room and grow to that size and and not make mistakes. 

"We're going through a broad philosophical shift in how we view the company. What we've learned now, whether it's data privacy or 'fake news' is we need to take a more proactive role. It's our responsibility. It's not enough to just build tools, we have to make sure they are used for good.  People will measure us by our results on this. I'm committed to getting this right."

Mr Zuckerberg said there would "always be a free version of Facebook" amid controversy over its business model of raising money from adverts.

Regulation

Mr Zuckerberg indicated he was open to some kind of regulation. 

Appearing to embrace European-style regulation, he pointed to Europe where there are tighter rules on companies harvesting and marketing user data.

"I think they get things right," he said. "My position is not that there should be no regulation. I think the real question as the internet becomes more important in people's lives is what is the right regulation."

Regulators in the European Union are tougher with companies like Facebook in how they handle users' data. Under the General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect in May, companies have to give customers much greater control over their data. Companies like Facebook could face heavy fines of up to four per cent of global revenues if they break the law.

'Your user agreement sucks'

The senators bombarded Mr Zuckerberg with questions about an array of Facebook's lengthy privacy policy and data, but didn't always seem to know how to follow up the tech billionaire's talk of algorithms and AI systems. So one member of the joint committee, average age 62, got to the point.

"I just don't feel like we're connecting," Senator John Kennedy, told Mr Zuckerberg in hour four of the hearing. "Your user agreement sucks."

Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, listens as Zuckerberg speaks Credit: Bloomberg

Of the hundreds of questions thrown at him, none appeared to derail him more than Senator Dick Durbin's pointed query about where he slept the previous evening.

"Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?" the 72-year-old asked.

Mr Zuckerberg paused for a full eight seconds, chuckled, grimaced, and ultimately demurred.

"Um, uh, no," he said.

And "if you've messaged anybody this week would you share with us the names of the people you've messaged?" the Illinois Democrat persisted.

Again, a similar unwillingness to answer.

FAQ | Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

Perhaps more than any other senator, Mr Durbin's everyman tactic put a finger on the crux of the issue surrounding Facebook's failure to maintain control of the private information of tens of millions of users.

"I think that might be what this is all about," said Durbin, 40 years Zuckerberg's senior.

"Your right to privacy, the limits of your right to privacy, and how much you give away in modern America in the name of connecting people around the world."

Why were users not told immediately?

When asked why the company did not immediately alert the 87 million users whose data may have been accessed by Cambridge Analytica when first told about the "improper" usage in 2015, Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook considered it a "closed case" after CA said it had deleted it.

"In retrospect it was clearly a mistake to believe them," he said.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees in Washington Credit: Bloomberg

CA insists it deleted the data harvested by Professor Aleksandr Kogan's personality quiz app as soon as it was informed it breached Facebook's terms of use.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica face multiple lawsuits over alleged misuse of personal information with at least five law firms in the UK and US investigating claims for compensation.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock will meet Facebook representatives in London on Wednesday.

Vow to tackle hate speech

Mr Zuckerberg was also grilled about the use of hate speech on the site, such as in Burma.

"What's happening in Myanmar is a terrible tragedy," Mr Zuckerberg answered.

"We all agree with that," Senator Patrick Leahy snapped.

Facebook has been accused by human rights advocates of not doing enough to weed out hate messages on its social-media network in Burma, where it is a dominant communications system.

More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Burma's Rakhine state into Bangladesh since insurgent attacks sparked a security crackdown last August.

'I'm really sorry': Zuckerberg's history of apologising

United Nations officials investigating a possible genocide in Burma said last month that Facebook had been a source of anti-Rohingya propaganda.

Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook was hiring dozens more Burmese-language speakers to remove threatening content.

"It's hard to do it without people who speak the local language, and we need to ramp up our effort there dramatically," he said, adding that Facebook was also asking civil society groups to help it identify figures who should be banned from the network.

12:25AM

And that's all, folks

The hearing is finally over. As nearly senator mentioned, that was a lengthy grilling for Zuckerberg. 

12:19AM

What his notes say

If his notes are any indication, Zuckerberg expected senators to ask whether he'd resign. His notes acknowledge he's made mistakes and say the company is facing a "big challenge" but will solve this one too.

Zuckerberg's notes were briefly visible to an Associated Press photographer during a hearing on Tuesday in which he answered questions about privacy, election interference and other issues.

The bullet-pointed pages include sections on "diversity," "competition," and GDPR, the European data-privacy rules that go into effect next month. Zuckerberg's notes warn him, "don't say we already do what GDPR requires."

The notes even refer to Tim Cook, the Apple CEO who recently criticised Facebook. One note says there are "lots of stories about apps misusing Apple data, never seen Apple notify people."

An aide to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg closes a binder of notes left on the table  Credit: AP

12:13AM

Facebook working with UK for a full audit

Senator Tester says Facebook allowed a foreign company to use Americans' data. What is Facebook doing to prevent what CA did from happening again.

He says they are restricting the amount of information that developers have access to, and they did some steps to do that a couple of years ago.

Can he do a full audit of CA if it's held abroad? He says the UK government is investigating it, but can't say what happens if other information is held somewhere else, like Russia. 

12:06AM

Another question that Zuckerberg can't answer

Senator Gardner: He points out that the user agreement says data could sit in back up folder for some period of time after deleting an account. But Zuckerberg does not  know how long. 

The senator thinks there is an expectation gap - Facebook expects the users to understand more than they actually do. 

Has there ever been a hack? Big pause. "I don't believe there has been a breach. But yes, there has been a hack."

 

12:00AM

Time for action, not apologies

Senator Cortez Masto says "enough apologising, we need change". 

And here's some reaction from investors to the hearing. 

11:55PM

Is deleted data really gone?

Zuckerberg stresses that if someone deletes their account, then their data is gone and can't be used. 

He also reiterates that if any more breaches are found, users will be told straight away. 

 

11:49PM

Facebook's conflict of interest

Senator Hassan says she is worried about how Facebook makes money - user engagement and how successful targeted ads are. There is a conflict over what is best for Facebook's bottom line and what is best for users.

He says he wants more engagement between users, saying studies have shown that helps people's wellbeing.

Does he commit to working with Congress on how to protect privacy even it means they have to change their business model?

Zuckerberg: He says yes - the question is, what should be the right regulatory framework, not should there be one.

 

11:43PM

Who reads all the terms and conditions?

Senator Ron Johnson makes it clear that not many people read all the terms and conditions.

Zuckerberg also says he is not aware of a large user backlash over the privacy concerns.   

 

11:38PM

Are they vulnerable to hacks?

Senator Tammy Baldwin getting into the nitty gritty of what CA could have accessed. Basically they could get a sub set of the data, not all of it. 

And are they vulnerable to a hack or data breach? Yes.

Would they have the duty to inform users? Yes. 

Do they know how CA used the data? He says they are still investigating. 

11:31PM

A frank question

Senator John Neely Kennedy says: "Your user agreement sucks." He wants it rewritten so people can understand it.

He wants to know if Zuckerberg can expand the right of the user to delete data and the right to privacy.  Can you transfer it to other sites?

Zuckerberg says to each question: You can already do that.  

11:26PM

Why did they not tell users immediately?

It's Senator Kamala Harris's turn now.  Did anyone at Facebook have a conversation when they became aware of the breach by Cambridge Analytica and decide not to contact the users straight away back in 2015?

Zuckerberg does not know, saying he was not in all the meetings, and he does not know if anyone else at the company discussed it. 

In retrospect, he thinks it's a mistake not to tell the users. 

11:20PM

Obama campaign 'also used Facebook data'

Senator Thom Tillis has asked Zuckerberg about how other data analytics firm have handled Facebook, saying it appears the Obama campaign used Facebook data in the 2012 election.

He also urges people to go the privacy section themselves and make sure they're as private as they need to be.

 

11:15PM

And here he comes

Zuckerberg returns to a cacophony of camera clicks. 

11:13PM

Fact check

We're on a break tight now, so here's  quick fact check from AP.

Mark Zuckerberg insisted oFacebook doesn't sell your data, calling it a common misconception people have about Facebook. 

"We do not sell data to advertisers. What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach. And then we do the placement."

THE FACTS: It's true that Facebook doesn't sell your data directly to third parties, but it clearly profits from the information. Thanks to user data, Facebook made $40 billion in advertising revenue last year, second only to Google when it comes to the share of the global digital advertising market.

Facebook uses the data you provide, such as where you live and how old you are, and combines it with geographic information from your phone to tailor ads to a certain audience. Facebook can charge more money the more specific the audience is. "With our powerful audience selection tools, you can target the people who are right for your business," Facebook says on its page about advertising.

How does Facebook do this without selling data? Advertisers choose the types of users they want to reach. Facebook can make the match internally to select the users to be shown the ads. In this case, Facebook isn't technically selling data, as it's all done internally. But without your data, Facebook wouldn't be able to offer such targeted advertising.

This doesn't mean data never leaves Facebook. In fact, the latest privacy scandal grew out of the revelation that a Trump-affiliated consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, managed to get data on tens of millions of Facebook users through an app that was purportedly a research tool. With apps, Facebook isn't selling data - it's giving the data to apps for free.

10:47PM

Zuckerberg says Facebook designed system 'in way that wasn't good'

Senator Moran has asked how the Cambridge Analytica data sharing did not violate the FTC consent order, when the 87 million friends of those who used the survey app had their data accessed. 

"Our view is that we didn’t violate the consent order," Zuckerberg has repeated.  

"The way that the app worked is how we explained that it worked. The system worked as it was designed, the issue is that we designed the system in a way that wasn’t good," Zuckerberg said. 

Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP

 

10:36PM

The 'right regulation'

"I think we need to talk about what is the right regulation," Zuckerberg said. 

"I agree with the point that when you're thinking through regulating you have to be careful that it doesn't cement in the current companies who are winning."

"When you add more rules that companies need to follow that's something that a larger company like our inherently has more resources to do."

10:19PM

Facebook boss says he would back an opt-in law 'in principle'

Senator Edward Markey has pressed Zuckerberg over whether he would back a new law in the US similar to GDPR regulation being introduced across Europe: "Should Facebook get clear permission from users before selling or sharing sensitive info? Should the consumer have to opt in?" he asked the Facebook boss. 

Zuckerberg said: "In general I think that principle is exactly right."

"We do require permission to use the system and put information in there. We don't sell information, regardless of whether we could get info to do that."

"As a principle yes [I would back it]... I would i think the details matter a lot."

Under GDPR, individuals must “opt-in” whenever data is collected on them.

At a glance | Your data rights

10:05PM

Facebook needs to get to AI content policing 'as soon as possible'

Zuckerberg has been asked why Facebook shifts the burden to "users to flag inappropriate content and get it taken down".

"I think it's clear this is an area we need to do a lot better on... Just because of the sheer volume of content, people report things to us and we review that," Zuckerberg said. 

"Over time we're going to shift increasingly to a method where more of this content is flagged up front by AI tools that we develop". 

"We need to get there as soon as possible," he said. 

9:53PM

Zuckerberg says users granting Facebook a 'licence' for their data

Mark Zuckerberg said users own their own data "it in the sense that you choose to put it there; you can choose to take it down at any time."

"When you put it on Facebook you are granting us a licence to show it to other people" he said. 

9:35PM

Zuckerberg said Facebook could have banned Cambridge Analytica in 2015

Credit: Chip Somodevilla

Zuckerberg clarifies that Cambridge Analytica did start as an advertiser in 2015, so it could have in theory banned them at that time. 

"I mispoke or got that wrong earlier," he said, after having spoken with his team during the short break. 

9:32PM

Facebook confirms personal messages affected in scandal

As the hearing pauses for a few minutes, here's an update on the news that some users' personal messages were accessed by Cambridge Analytica.

In a statement, Facebook said: "In 2014, Facebook’s platform policy allowed developers to request mailbox permissions but only if the person explicitly gave consent for this to happen.

"At the time when people provided access to their mailboxes - when Facebook messages were more of an inbox and less of a real-time messaging service - this enabled things like desktop apps that combined Facebook messages with messages from other services like SMS so that a person could access their messages all in one place.

"According to our records only a very small number of people explicitly opted into sharing this information. The feature was turned off in 2015.”

What you need to know about the privacy row engulfing Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

 

9:29PM

Facebook says Cambridge Analytica data harvesting did not breach its FTC agreement

Cambridge Analytica's harvesting of data did 'not violate' Facebook's agreement with the FTC, Zuckerberg has said.

He was responding to a question from Senator Richard Blumenthal over the terms of service supplied by Aleksandr Kogan to Facebook, for his quiz which harvested user data.

“Facebook was on notice that he could sell that user information,” Blumenthal said, saying Facebook was "heedless and reckless" and asked if it was "willful blindness".

Zuckerberg said this did not violate the privacy agreement with the regulator. 

9:17PM

Facebook 'renting' data

Zuckerberg: "There's a very common misconception about Facebook that we sell data to advertisers. And we do not sell data to advertisers."

Senator Cornyn: "Well you clearly rent it."

Zuckerberg: "We allow advertisers to tell us who they want to reach and we do the placement."

9:04PM

Testimony may suggest at paid version of Facebook in future

Sean Sullivan, security adviser at F-Secure, said: "Tuesday’s Senate hearing included a very interesting answer in Mark Zuckerberg’s exchange with Senator Orrin Hatch. Zuckerberg stated that there will always be a “version” of Facebook that is free. Which opens up the possibility that Facebook is considering the need to offer a paid version, perhaps at least as a voluntary option."

Facebook average advertising revenue per user by territory

Sullivan added: "An ad-free version of Facebook that doesn’t collect data would be a potential game changer. Much in the way that news organisations are developing paywalls and dedicated audiences in an effort to diversify revenue. It’s a dynamic that is sorely lacking in the social media space."

8:51PM

Facebook does not have a monopoly, says Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook does not have a monopoly as a business, saying "the average American uses around 8 different apps a day".

Senator Graham asked him: "You don't feel like you have a monopoly?"

"It certainly doesn't feel like that to me," Zuckerberg said. 

8:42PM

Zuckerberg confirms working with Mueller's office

Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook was working with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading up an investigation into possible collusion in the US presidential election.

He said some Facebook employees have been interviewed in the probe, but that he himself has not been interviewed. He said he was uncertain if Facebook had received subpoenas. 

 "Our work with the special counsel is confidential," he said. 

Did the Trump campaign collude with Russia in 2016? | The four investigations

8:38PM

Facebook shares jump more than 5pc amid testimony

Shares in Facebook jumped more than 5pc in late trade as Mark Zuckerberg speaks before Congress, their highest intraday level since March 23.

It is worth noting that three congressmen – Kurt Schrader, Joe Kennedy III and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse – who own shares in Facebook are members of the committees questioning Zuckerberg. 

8:35PM

European data rules could be implemented in US, Zuckerberg says

Zuckerberg has suggested that the EU's GDPR regulation, which comes into effect on May 25, could be implemented in the US. 

He noted, however, that there are "different sensibilities" between the US and Europe and said Facebook would be working to regulate itself, regardless of the regulatory environment in both places. 

At a glance | Your data rights

 

8:24PM

Facebook had 'nothing to ban' in terms of Cambridge Analytica in 2015

Credit: Alex Wong

Zuckerberg has been asked why Facebook didn't ban Cambridge Analytica in 2015 when it learned data from its users had been bought by the British firm.

"That's a great question," Mark Zuckerberg said. "Cambridge Analytica wasn't using our services in 2015 as far as I can tell... We had nothing to ban."

Facebook had asked Cambridge Analytica to delete and stop using the data in 2015. 

8:16PM

Facebook needs more 'active view' on policing

Zuckerberg said Facebook needs to take a more "active view" on policing usage, saying it will be hiring more people to review posts on its sites. 

He said it is currently a "reactive process" when people flag issues with content, and this will be difficult to improve until the process is more automated, using artificial intelligence. 

8:15PM

Zuckerberg does not have figures on Facebook bans

Mark Zuckerberg said he does not have the exact figure on how many times data obtained from its users has been improperly transferred and how many apps Facebook has banned.

Says his team will follow up with lawmakers with whatever information they have at a later date. 

8:05PM

Facebook to be investigating 'tens of thousands of apps'

When asked about what Facebook is doing to help protect its users, Mark Zuckerberg said: "We believe that we're going to be investigating many apps, tens of thousands of apps and if we find any suspicious activity we're going to conduct a full audit of those apps to find out how they're using they're data."

7:58PM

Zuckerberg reads prepared statement

Mark Zuckerberg has started his testimony with his prepared statement, released and reported on by The Daily Telegraph yesterday, in which he said it was clear Facebook "didn't do enough" to prevent its tools being used for harm.

In his statement Zuckerberg said he was responsible for the issues at the company. "We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry," he said. 

'I'm really sorry': Zuckerberg's history of apologising

 

7:51PM

Zuckerberg arriving to testify

Mark Zuckerberg was not sworn in when he arrived to testify before Congress today, although this does not mean he does not need to tell the truth in his evidence.

It was instead a courtesy afforded to avoid any pictures which could prove damaging.

Mark Zuckerberg arriving to testify Credit: Pablo Martinez/AP

 

7:35PM

Zuckerberg hearing begins

Mark Zuckerberg to be grilled by lawmakers Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Senator John Thune has started the Facebook hearing by saying that the Cambridge Analytica scandal should be "a wake up call for the tech community". 

"How will you protect users' data? How will you inform users about the changes you are making?" Mr Thune said. 

7:24PM

Hearing delayed by Senate vote

The start time for Mark Zuckerberg's testimony has been pushed back slightly after the Senate scheduled a vote for the same time, at 7:15pm UK time. 

The Wall Street Journal's Deepa Seetharaman has tweeted images from the audience of the hearing room, where protesters have arrived.

 

7:20PM

Personal messages said to have been accessed in breach

Facebook has begun contacting users who may be among the 87 million whose data had been potentially shared with Cambridge Analytica.

That data includes public profile, page likes, date of birth and current city, it said.

Some users, however, may also have had their personal messages accessed.

At the bottom of the message to affected users, Facebook said: “A small number of people who logged into ‘This Is Your Digital Life’ also shared their own News Feed, timeline, posts and messages which may have included posts and messages from you. They may also have shared your hometown.”

Speaking to the BBC, a spokesman for Facebook said around 0.5pc of the 305,000 people who installed the app had given it to access their Facebook inboxes, which would then affect those in conversations with those users. 

Cambridge Analytica said in a statement yesterday that it had licenced “legally obtained data” from Global Science Research’s Mr Kogan, which had been accessed through a tool provided by Facebook.

How to take back your privacy on Facebook

7:09PM

Facebook offers $40,000 bounty

Facebook has launched a scheme today to reward people with payouts of more than $40,000 if they can find data abuse on its site.

Speaking to CNBC, Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos said: "It will help us find the cases of data abuse not tied to security vulnerability. ... This will cover both hemispheres, and help surface more cases like Cambridge Analytica so we can know about it first and take action.”

The launch comes just hours after Cambridge Analytica released a statement alleging that "hundreds" of companies are harvesting personal information from social network users.

The political research company, which was employed by the Trump campaign in the run-up to the US presidential election, released a statement in an attempt to quell the media storm that has been brewing since it used data from a fake quiz app that siphoned personal information from millions of Facebook users.

Zuckerberg has said that Facebook changed the level of control apps had in 2014 to prevent the sort of information sharing used by Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica in the wake of the revelations.

7:03PM

Criticism mounts over fake accounts

Activists from Avaaz have installed dozens of cardboard cutouts of Mark Zuckerberg outside the Capitol building in Washington ahead of his testimony, in a bid to draw attention to fake accounts.

Cutouts outside the Capitol building Credit: Al Drago/Bloomberg

It comes as Facebook was dealt a blow just hours before Zuckerberg was due to give evidence, with one of the members of the Senate judiciary committee Senator Chris Coons posting on Twitter that he found two fake Facebook accounts for himself.

"This is unacceptable," he said. 

Facebook said it had taken down those accounts.

6:53PM

'Facebook needs to take a broader view of our responsibility,' says Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg has posted on Facebook ahead of the hearing today, saying he will speak on "how Facebook needs to take a broader view of our responsibility -- not just to build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good". 

Shares in Facebook pushed 2.5pc higher ahead of the testimony, to its highest level today.

6:49PM

Zuckerberg held private meetings ahead of testimony

Ahead of his Congress appearance, Mark Zuckerberg has been meeting privately with senators, including the Senate judiciary committee chairman Chuck Grassley, the top Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee, Dianne Feinstein, and the top Democrat on the Senate commerce committee, Bill Nelson, as the tech giant attempts to ward off further regulation within the industry.

Zuckerberg has been striking a conciliatory tone in recent weeks, and is expected to do the same before Congress today, as the bulk of Facebook’s revenue is generated from advertising and harsher regulations on how it protects user data could make it more difficult for the social media giant to attract advertisers.

However, some have said legislation is unlikely as in the current political environment, it will be difficult to get a bipartisan bill through Congress on the issue.

Facebook also spends a huge amount on political lobbying, hitting $11.5m in 2017, up from $1.35m in 2011 according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Facebook lobbying spend

Speaking on Monday, when asked about the possibility of new regulations, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders: “I don’t have a specific policy announcement on that front, but I think we’re all looking forward to that testimony.”

6:39PM

What to expect from Mark Zuckerberg's testimony

Zuckerberg faces Congress following data scandal | What to expect

6:30PM

Welcome to our live coverage

Good evening and welcome to The Daily Telegraph's live blog where we’ll be following Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress over the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

The testimony will be a rare appearance for Zuckerberg, and the first time that he has testified before US lawmakers, coming in the wake of a barrage of criticism over how Facebook protects users’ data.

In the past he has left political maneuvering to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, but was asked to appear himself given the severity of the revelations.

The 33-year-old founder is likely to face a grilling from legislators over issues including whether the scandal should result in new regulation and why the leak wasn’t reported earlier.

Ahead of the testimony, which kicks off at 7.15pm UK time, here’s what you need to know so far:

  • Facebook last week confirmed up to 87 million people had their data harvested by political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, of which around one million were in the UK.

  • Cambridge Analytica got access to the data after collaborating with Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan on a quiz app called thisisyourdigitallife. This was installed by 270,000 people and then harvested data from their Facebook friends.

  • Lawmakers are likely to mention allegations that the data obtained by Cambridge Analytica was using during Donald Trump’s election campaign. Cambridge Analytica has said these claims are “simply untrue”.

  • In his opening statement to Congress, released yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg admitted the social network failed to do enough to protect users' data and took responsibility for the recent data breach.

  • Zuckerberg has declined to testify before MPs and is instead sending his chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer.