MMM site

Facebook releases 450 pages to US Senate to provide answers

Tim Maytom

Facebook has provided the US Senate with a lengthy homework project in the form of over 450 pages of answers, expanding on Mark Zuckerberg's 10-hour testimony from April.

Zuckerberg was criticised heavily for repeatedly telling lawmakers that he would "have to get back to them" with more detailed answers, but the Facebook CEO appears to have at least attempted to live up to his promise. Congress has just released the 454 pages of written responses to questions asked during Zuckerberg's testimony, answering over 2,000 questions, including queries that were submitted before the hearing.

The topics covered by the questions span from Facebook's so-called 'shadow profiles' collected on people outside Facebook to the company's responsibilities when it comes to notifying users about data breaches.

However, the information provided may just lead to further questions, with the general consensus being that the answers provided to the two Senate committees are at best cautious and at worst evasive, often pointing to publicly available policies or referring back to answers the company has already provided.

Among the topics Facebook still failed to give a concrete reply on were whether ads could exclude people on race (according to Facebook, this is not possible, but people can be excluded based on "multicultural affinity") and whether Facebook tracks every IP address used when logging into Facebook.

This isn't the first time Facebook has had to follow up on testimony with written answers, nor will it be the first time those answers are largely considered unsatisfactory. In May, a UK parliamentary committee accused Facebook of failing to answer questions on data privacy, while Mark Zuckerberg's appearance before members of the European Parliament was considered another flop after a questionable format enabled him to evade the most pressing questions.

With Facebook still facing the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as new controversies like a privacy bug that affected 14m users and the company's data-sharing agreements with a number of manufacturers, the desire for concrete answers is unlikely to fade, but the social network has so far proved adept at avoiding the topics that have the largest potential to damage its reputation.