Staff Columnist

What should Grassley ask Zuckerberg at Senate hearing?

Facebook CEO will appear before Senate Judiciary Committee amid mounting privacy concerns

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the Alumni Exercises following the 366th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 25, 2017.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the Alumni Exercises following the 366th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will make a much-anticipated appearance before federal lawmakers next week, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has a front-row seat.

Facebook, with nearly 2 billion users worldwide, is facing harsh criticism for its handling of Americans’ personal data, especially related to the possible exploitation of the social media service in politics. Now Grassley — an 84-year-old with a preference for Twitter over Facebook — will have a chance to question Zuckerberg.

As I’ve written before, conspiracy theories about foreign social media sleuths swinging the 2016 election are unsubstantiated. It’s clear outsiders have tried to influence our elections — as we do theirs — but there’s no evidence it worked.

Russia hubbub is convenient distraction for Iowa Dems

Worried about privacy? Watch Washington, not Moscow

Still, I admit Facebook plays a huge role in American life, and therefore in our republic. It’s worth considering whether we need better safeguards to protect personal data online, as Grassley has vowed to explore.

“Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate, using data to connect people from around the world. With all of the data exchanged over Facebook and other platforms, users deserve to know how their information is shared and secured. This hearing will explore approaches to privacy that satisfy consumer expectations while encouraging innovation,” Grassley said in a news release.

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The business media outlet Bloomberg posted a list of 38 questions commentators hope lawmakers will pose at the upcoming hearing.

I want to know what Iowans think — what questions should Grassley ask Zuckerberg? Email me, or join the conversation in the comments below.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Grassley, will co-host the hearing with testimony from Zuckerberg on Tuesday, April 10. The hearing, titled “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data,” will stream online at www.judiciary.senate.gov.

l Comments: (319) 339-3156; adam.sullivan@thegazette.com

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