- March media reports revealed that a researcher sold Facebook user data to an outside firm, Cambridge Analytica.
- But the negative press hasn't deterred users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
- When asked, Zuckerberg said there has not been dramatic falloff of the number of people that use Facebook.
Zuckerberg spoke on Tuesday at a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees, where he was questioned for more than four hours about Facebook's treatment of user data. The company has been under pressure after March media reports revealed that a researcher sold Facebook user data to an outside firm, Cambridge Analytica, which has been associated with President Donald Trump's campaign.
But the negative press hasn't deterred users, Zuckerberg said, in response to a question from a Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Johnson: With all this publicity, have you documented any kind of backlash from Facebook users? I mean, has there been a dramatic falloff of the number of people that utilize Facebook because of these concerns?
Zuckerberg: Senator, there has not.
Johnson: You haven't even witnessed any?
Zuckerberg: Senator, there was a movement where some people were encouraging their friends to delete their accounts. I think that got shared a bunch?
Johnson: So it's kind of safe to say that Facebook users don't seem to be overly concerned about all these revelations, although obviously Congress apparently is?
Zuckerberg: Well Senator, I think people are concerned about it and I think these are incredibly important issues that people want us to address. And I think people have told us that very clearly.
Johnson: It seems like Facebook users still want to use the platform, because they enjoy sharing photos. They share their connectivity with their family members. That type of thing. And that overrides their concerns about privacy.
Prior to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook was already struggling to address the fallout around the 2016 presidential election. Critics blamed Facebook for the spread of misinformation during the election, and Russian agents also used fake social media accounts to share divisive content in the U.S.
In January, Zuckerberg said that Facebook took action to reduce deceptive content, and that those changes had already reduced time spent on the site by 50 million hours per day, or 5 percent.