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Zuckerberg (probably) agrees to testify

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Last week the big question was, will Mark Zuckerberg address the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal?
 
March 27 · Issue #106 · View online
The Interface
Last week the big question was, will Mark Zuckerberg address the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal? This week, it’s: will he address Congress? In both cases, the debate seemed rather anticlimactic: of course he would. But after a full day of somewhat contradictory reporting, we still don’t know for absolute certain that Zuckerberg will testify. Multiple outlets reported that he has “resigned himself to it.” Cecelia Kang and Sheera Frankel shed a bit more light in the New York Times:
The chief executive has agreed to testify in at least one congressional hearing over the social network’s handling of customer data, according to people familiar with the decision. Specifically, he plans to appear next month before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the arrangements were not public. Mr. Zuckerberg may make other appearances; he has also been asked to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary and Commerce Committees.
His appearing on Capitol Hill could create a spectacle that is replayed online and on television for years to come, especially amid a backlash against the power of tech behemoths. 
This felt like a foregone conclusion because Zuckerberg is Facebook’s founder, its CEO, and its public face. To decline Congress’ invitation would almost certainly make lawmakers more disposed to adverse regulations. Moreover, there’s good reason to believe Zuckerberg’s testimony could help the company: he’s worked hard at public speaking, and is quite good at it. The only down side, as the Times notes, is the optics of him being sworn in. 
Still, Zuckerberg’s goodwill apparently does not extend to the United Kingdom. Business Insider reports — er, expands on a tweet from a Bloomberg reporter — stating that Zuckerberg prefers to send two top deputies, Chris Cox and Mike Schroepfer, in his stead:
Rebecca Simon, Facebook’s head of public policy in the UK, responded to calls from the Conservative politician Damian Collins that Zuckerberg appear before a select committee inquiry into fake news.
She wrote to Collins: “Facebook fully recognises the level of public and Parliamentary interest in these issues and support your belief that these issues must be addressed at the most senior levels of the company by those in an authoritative position to answer your questions. As such, Mr. Zuckerberg has personally asked one of his deputies to make themselves available to give evidence in person to the Committee.”
On one hand, Zuckerberg has a country to run, and maybe can’t appear in front of every global body that might wish to hear him present evidence. On the other, here’s a predictable consequence of running a global “community” of 2 billion people: a mistake in one country can have people howling for answers in dozens more.

Democracy
Facebook Goes on a Hiring Spree for Washington Lobbyists
Exposure to Opposing Views can Increase Political Polarization: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment on Social Media
Teen Protesters Used Meme Signs at March for Our Lives
Tumblr Is Our Best Glimpse of How Russian Trolls Work
Exclusive poll: Facebook favorability plunges
Why Facebook Needs To Act Fast To Contain Its Brand Trust Breach
Elsewhere
Ad Scammers Need Suckers, and Facebook Helps Find Them
Facebook stock keeps sinking
Facebook sued for allegedly enabling housing discrimination
Facebook explains why it shows who ignored your event
ICE Used Private Facebook Data to Find and Track Criminal Suspect, Internal Emails Show
Google is acquiring GIF platform Tenor
The Girl Logan Paul Rode with No Handlebars Speaks Out
The head of Twitter’s Niche talent service is leaving, and Twitter is already looking for a replacement
Launches
Firefox now isolates Facebook tracking so you don’t have to delete it
WhatsApp beta for Android gets QR code support for payments
Takes
Facebook Has Had Countless Privacy Scandals. But This One Is Different.
Be a pioneer – delete Facebook
Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Americans don't trust Facebook, will stay on it anyway.
And finally ...
When I started The Interface last October on what was basically a whim — although a whim with my bosses’ permission — I needed a logo. Mark Zuckerberg had just completed his virtual reality tour of Puerto Rico, and I felt that his avatar communicated something essential about this project. I no longer really remember what that was, however, and in the meantime I have received two pieces of feedback about this newsletter more than any other:
  • Is this a Verge project?
  • Oh my God what is that avatar?
Today, thanks to the work of my highly talented colleague William Joel, we have a new logo that answers both questions. Let me know what you think, and keep that feedback coming.
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Congressional testimony? casey@theverge.com
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