Johnson Questions Zuckerberg at Congressional Hearing

Johnson Questions Zuckerberg at Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about an incident in which a recent ad from Franciscan University in Steubenville depicting Jesus on the cross was denied for being deemed “violent.”

Zuckerberg testified Wednesday at a hearing of the House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing. He appeared before both houses of Congress this week in response to the social media giant’s handling of user data in the wake of revelations of data harvesting by Cambridge Analytica.

Johnson, R-6 Ohio, referenced his background as a software engineer as he questioned Zuckerberg.

“I know the challenges that you face in terms of managing the technology. But often times technology folks spend so much time thinking about what they can do, and little time thinking about what they should do,” Johnson said. 

Referencing Zuckerberg’s earlier admission that taking down the Franciscan University ad was “a mistake,” Johnson asked how content is filtered and determined to be appropriate or inappropriate, and compliant with Facebook policy.

“Is there an algorithm that does it, or is there a team of a gazillion people that sit there and look at each and every ad and make that determination?” Johnson asked.

Congressman, it is a combination of both,” Zuckerberg responded. By the end of 2018, Facebook will have more than 20,000 people working on security and content review.

“But in order to flag some content quickly, we also build technical systems in order to take things down. So, if we see terrorist content for example, we will flag that and we can take that down,” he continued.

Johnson asked what happens when a mistake is made and specifically what happened to the individual who took down the Franciscan University ad. “What kind of accountability is there when mistakes are made, because every time a mistake like that is made, it is a little bit of a chip away from the trust and the responsibility factors,” he said.

Content reviewers’ performance specifically is measured by whether they do their job accurately, the Facebook CEO said. He could not say specifically what happened to the individual involved with the Franciscan University ad but said he would get back to the congressman regarding that information.

The congressman praised Zuckerberg as “a real American success story” who, with Facebook, has revolutionized how people around the globe communicate and interact with one another.

One of the reasons he was able to do that was the absence of “a big federal government overregulating” firms like his and telling them what they can and cannot do. In the absence of such regulation, “the only way it works for the betterment of society and people is with a high degree of responsibility and trust, and you have acknowledged that there have been some breakdowns in responsibility,” he said.

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