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Congress, let Facebook fix its own problems

The much-anticipated showdown between Silicon Valley and Washington, DC, is center stage this week, as Facebook CEO M...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 8:02 AM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 8:02 AM

The much-anticipated showdown between Silicon Valley and Washington, DC, is center stage this week, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before House and Senate panels about the mishandling of Facebook data.

Senator John Thune opened Tuesday's Senate hearing by urging Zuckerberg to ensure his dream "doesn't become a privacy nightmare" for millions of Americans.

I believe Zuckerberg is capable of addressing Thune's concern, and without assistance from the federal government.

Facebook is already taking steps to address concerns over privacy, safety and the sanctity of democracy. Because the social media giant is imposing new standards of transparency and accountability to address the privacy breach, Congress should hold off on imposing regulations.

In other words, Facebook can self-regulate -- and we should give it a chance to put its new policies into practice.

While hearings are underway on the Hill, the social media giant has begun the unenviable task of notifying the 87 million users whose personal data was improperly obtained by political research firm Cambridge Analytica.

And I, for one, am interested in seeing Facebook address this wrong, given my own experience with Cambridge Analytica. While serving as Communications Director on the 2016 Ted Cruz for President campaign, we contracted with Cambridge Analytica. It promised to deliver a data service enhanced by psychological voter profiles that could predict the personality and possible political leanings of those they target. Cambridge Analytica claimed to have the "secret sauce" for the optimum voter files.

That turned out not to be the case, and ultimately we used voter files from the Republican National Committee and data modeling firm i360. The foundation for all of our data and analytics was created by the Cruz Director of Analytics, Chris Wilson. Cambridge Analytica simply operated as data scientists on Wilson's team. That didn't stop the firm from taking credit for several Cruz primary wins and the Trump victory.

But the actions of Cambridge Analytica are just one piece of the Facebook puzzle that will be taken apart during the congressional hearings.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, sees the Zuckerberg testimony as a moment of reckoning, calling it "high noon for Facebook and the tech industry."

However, the question is not what Zuckerberg is going to do to survive the anticipated political grandstanding by members of Congress, but what Facebook is going to do to protect privacy and retain the trust of its 2 billion users.

To address the data breach, Facebook has taken steps to safeguard user privacy by putting stronger protections in place -- beginning with updating the site's privacy settings. In addition, they plan to investigate all apps with access to large amounts of information, restrict access to user data and ensure users are aware of who has access to their personal data.

As for the issue of political propaganda, Russian government trolls used Facebook to spread misinformation during the 2016 election. They used fake accounts and pages to run ads and "game the system," according to Zuckerberg.

Facebook admits that it was slow to pick up on foreign interference in the 2016 US elections. But it's also beginning to take action. Facebook announced last week that it will require buyers of political ads to verify their identity and location, and those who are unable to do so will be prohibited from running political ads on the platform. And it has committed to increased transparency and accountability across electoral and issue ads and pages.

Ideally, the joint hearings will conclude with Facebook having clearly articulated these practical solutions to enhancing privacy safeguards and preventing bad actors from undermining our democracy.

If Facebook succeeds in doing so, it will have shown a good faith effort to identify the cause of recent problems -- and, more importantly, its ability to adequately address them without government assistance.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 261167

Reported Deaths: 5713
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17561191
Hinds16687329
Harrison14050202
Rankin11102217
Jackson10729188
Lee9014143
Madison8495168
Jones6607114
Forrest6135122
Lauderdale6067192
Lowndes5490120
Lafayette511794
Lamar499865
Washington4904125
Bolivar4087109
Oktibbeha403581
Panola380981
Pontotoc374757
Monroe3651106
Warren3649103
Union353263
Marshall352069
Neshoba3464154
Pearl River3422105
Leflore3090109
Lincoln304287
Sunflower290373
Hancock288461
Tate279062
Alcorn270754
Pike268180
Itawamba266662
Scott256048
Yazoo253756
Prentiss251153
Copiah247649
Tippah247550
Coahoma245954
Simpson241471
Leake236167
Grenada222471
Marion220273
Covington219072
Adams212370
Wayne208432
Winston205870
George203539
Newton197346
Attala196461
Tishomingo193861
Chickasaw188444
Jasper177838
Holmes171368
Clay164237
Tallahatchie155635
Stone149525
Clarke144762
Calhoun139922
Smith127725
Yalobusha121134
Walthall114037
Greene112929
Noxubee112225
Montgomery111236
Carroll106422
Lawrence105617
Perry104031
Amite100826
Webster95424
Tunica88221
Claiborne87825
Jefferson Davis87727
Benton84823
Humphreys84224
Kemper80020
Quitman7049
Franklin69617
Choctaw62513
Wilkinson59625
Jefferson56520
Sharkey44817
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
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