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Zuckerberg defends Facebook to US Senators

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Zuckerberg defends Facebook to US Senators

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Facebook's troubles have brought CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify in the US Congress where he was the first to admit mistakes had been made.

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake," he said. "And it was my mistake and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it and I'm responsible for what happens here."

The company has gone through two very difficult years. The problems kicked-off around the 2016 US presidential campaign. Although Facebook had already made crucial changes to its business model by then, this was when it all started to go wrong.

On the 14th anniversary of the social network on 4th February, Zuckerberg posted this statement: "Today is Facebook's fourteenth birthday. It's a moment to reflect on how far we've come from that dorm room at Harvard and how far we still have to go to bring the world closer together."

Facebook has introduced a few changes via its 'Closer Together' approach. A fact acknowledged by Zuckerberg when the company released its results for 2017 earlier this year.

"Our focus in 2018 is making sure Facebook isn't just fun," he explained. "We've made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day."

But less time didn't have a big impact on the number of users. In 2017, monthly active users were up 14% to 2.1 bn with a similar 14% increase in daily active users.

These figures prompted Orrin Hatch, a Republican Senator from Utah, to ask how these users make money for the company?

"Senator, we run ads," replied Zuckerberg, an answer that appeared to please Hatch.

"I see," he said. "That's great."

And indeed it has been great financially for the company.

In 2017, total revenue increased 47% to $40.6bn. Advertising revenue accounted for $39.9bn of this figure.

Dan Sullivan, US Republican Senator for Alska, wanted Zuckerberg to define the kind of company he ran.

"Are you a tech company or are you the world's largest publisher?" he asked.

"Do we feel responsibility for the content on our platform?" answered Zuckerberg. "The answer to that I think is clearly 'yes', but I don't think that's incompatible with fundamentally at our core being a technology company where the main thing that we do is have engineers and build products."

Zuckerberg is now facing a second day of grilling from US senators.