PACIFIC for April 10: Zuckerberg 'nervous' but 'confident'

pacific newsletter mark zuckerberg in washington

What's Next: Mark Zuckerberg plans to be contrite, humble and respectful at today's hearing, a source familiar tells my colleague Laurie Segall. He plans to take responsibility and argue why he believes he's the right person to fix the problems at Facebook. He will defend Facebook's business model and will say that it's "a common misconception" the company sells users' data. "He's nervous," the source says, "but he's really confident."

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My fear: The majority of lawmakers -- 44 in all just today -- will not have a sufficient enough grasp of Facebook's business model to press Zuckerberg out of his comfort zone. They will instead each use their five minutes to grandstand and make speeches that will have little bearing on the future of data privacy, much less the future of Facebook.

The hearing starts at 2:15 p.m. ET. Watch live.


PACIFIC: Today's agenda

Good morning. PACIFIC is on the Atlantic, in more ways than one: My colleague Oliver Darcy and I have just learned that Jeff Bezos recently dined with the leaders of The New York Times and his own Washington Post.

Bezos was spotted last month at The Ribbon on Manhattan's Upper West Side with Washington Post CEO Fred Ryan and executive editor Marty Baron, New York Times father-son publishers Arthur and A.G. Sulzberger, NYT Co. CEO Mark Thompson and Times executive editor Dean Baquet.

Baquet emails: "Leaders of the Post and The Times have gotten together periodically for decades and still do. Arthur and Don Graham were friends, as were Katharine Graham and Arthur's father. When Jeff Bezos bought The Post, Arthur thought it was a tradition worth maintaining. So we have."


The Trust Crisis: Can Zuck be liked?

Speaking of Don Graham ... The longtime Post publisher, friend of Zuckerberg and member of Facebook's board of directors, has written a lengthy defense of the 33-year-old CEO on his Facebook page:

• "I want to talk to... those who have come to believe that Mark Zuckerberg is himself a bad person. ... People who believe that Mark is more interested in profits than in the interests of the people who use Facebook."

• "I would like to tell you otherwise. Watching him close up, I came to believe he is someone of great decency and good character."

• "We don't allow public hangings or bear-baiting in the United States anymore. Congressional hearings like this one, with lots of Senators badgering an unpopular CEO, are a substitute. For some Senators—not all—the idea is to ask the nastiest, most hostile questions, thereby earning the prize: time on television."

How I see it: Anyone who failed to anticipate the risks inherent in their product, allowed third parties to access tens of millions of people's data without their knowledge, and then waited for years -- until the scandal broke -- to inform them, apologize and take action, deserves a little grilling by lawmakers.


The Latest: New initiatives, new headaches

The Good

Facebook Newsroom: "Today, Facebook is launching the Data Abuse Bounty to reward people who report any misuse of data by app developers. ... If we confirm data abuse, we will shut down the offending app and take legal action against the company... if necessary. We'll pay the person who reported the issue, and we'll also alert those we believe to be affected."

The Bad

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan: "The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is fake ... For at least a year, the biggest page on Facebook purporting to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement was a scam with ties to a middle-aged white man in Australia."

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The Testimony: What Zuck will say

From the text of Zuckerberg's remarks as prepared for delivery to the House Energy and Commerce committee tomorrow:

• "It's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy."

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

• "So now we have to go through every part of our relationship with people and make sure we're taking a broad enough view of our responsibility. ... Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good."

• "It will take some time to work through all of the changes we need to make, but I'm committed to getting it right."


The Big Picture: Facebook will be fine

Important perspective from Andrew Ross Sorkin:

• "The reality is that when it comes to privacy, the trade-off has already been made: We decided long ago to give away our personal information in exchange for free content and the ability to interact seamlessly with others."

• "With the latest disclosure about Facebook's data missteps... politicians can scream from the rooftops about privacy, and they should. But the public has proved over and over again that it doesn't care."

Bonus: "Some Facebook Workers Feel Outrage Is Misplaced: Many workers are undaunted by user-data scandal; issues are mostly hype, some say" by WSJ's Georgia Wells, Deepa Seetharaman and Yoree Koh.

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What we really want

Transparency and choice.

Sorkin is right. We're not going back to a world where companies don't have access to our data. What users want is a clear understanding of what companies are doing with that data and an obvious way to opt out of practices that make us uncomfortable.

To date, the only existing regulatory proposal is the Honest Ads Act, which focuses narrowly on political advertising and is so toothless that Facebook and other social media companies have been happy to support it.

Just in: "Twitter is pleased to support the Honest Ads Act."


What Next: Kara Swisher going HAM on the media coverage: "Let's stop acting like he can't handle it. He can. As someone who made him do so once, I can attest that the formerly sweaty CEO won't melt under the withering klieg lights of Congress."

See you tomorrow.

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