Sunday, 22 April 2018

Frydenberg's Neg challenge is like climbing Everest with no oxygen

For folks who aren’t hardcore climate and energy policy tragics, it might be hard to stay on top of the various twists and turns in the debate about the national energy guarantee. This is a good weekend to take stock.
If you were watching events on Friday, you’ll know the federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg has persuaded the states and territories to keep going with the Neg, but just hold that thought. To understand all the dimensions of this debate properly, and I think there’s value in laying it all out – we’ll need a brief recap, then we’ll need to look over the horizon to chart where it’s all going.
The Neg is supposed to deal with two problems. The policy’s reliability and emissions framework is aimed at ensuring the lights stay on at something like an affordable price for energy users, and emissions decrease in the electricity sector so we have some vague hope of meeting our international climate commitments.
The Neg is entirely a creature of its circumstances. The government isn’t in a position to argue for a carbon price or an emissions trading scheme, or for a continuation of the renewable energy target after 2020 as a rebadged clean energy target – which was an idea put forward by the chief scientist Alan Finkel.    
Because of the great, persistent, internal unreason that descends within the Coalition whenever the words carbon abatement are uttered, the government has locked itself out of conventional policy approaches, so it had to conjure up something entirely new, and when you are a government trapped in that universe, the policy will reflect the compromises you’ve had to make to get there.
So the Neg isn’t perfect. Not even close.
Frydenberg is also being shadowed at every turn by Tony Abbott. Abbott, more than any other person, has created the energy mess Australia finds itself in. You’d think his previous miscalculations might trigger a bout of quiet introspection, or even remorse, but no such luck. Our former prime minister is nothing if not relentless, always up for another round of virtue signalling, followed by vandalism.


Important that COAG today put reducing price ahead of reducing emissions. The NEG will be good policy if and only if it really does deliver long term certainty; and if HELE coal fired power stations can enter the system without price penalty or restriction
Fortunately, at least in this early point in the proceedings, there is a mild structural check on rampant Abbottism because there are a whole bunch of players – businesses, energy companies, consumers – who are now so worn down by the consequences of 10 years of brain-dead sloganeering and hyper-partisan claptrap that they now just want this problem fixed.
Aided by a broad coalition calling for action, Frydenberg has worked assiduously, doing his best within the constraints he faces, determined to deliver the fix.
The states and territories, who are partners in this joint venture because any one of them has the power to torpedo the policy because of the way the national electricity market is structured, are trying to manage their serious doubts about the commonwealth plan and remain at the table long enough to see if a deal can be done.
So that’s act one of this process. That ended Friday.    
During act two, which will play out between now and August, states and territories will be given more detail about the scheme, and once they have that detail, they will know whether there is a deal to do, or whether there isn’t.
Assuming the commonwealth and the states can come to terms, assuming the scheme is not torpedoed at a meeting of the Coag energy council in August (and right now I assume nothing), then we’ll move into act three, which is the Canberra end of proceedings.
Frydenberg will have to come back to the Coalition party room to secure sign off on legislation enacting the national emissions reduction target for electricity, and determine a trajectory for how fast that emissions reduction happens.
The government will also have to make a decision and get internal sign off about whether energy companies will be able to buy offsets to reduce their emissions, and the treatment of activities that are emissions intensive and trade exposed.
These questions will be resolved while there is a rising public clamour about what happens with emissions reduction in the rest of the Australian economy – a new front that Frydenberg really doesn’t want to open given his plan for electricity is not yet settled, and the colleagues are already skittish.
So in Coalition terms, Frydenberg faces a challenge comparable to climbing Mount Everest without oxygen, and that’s in normal conditions. That’s assuming the government doesn’t blow itself up between now and the end of the year, which on current indications, looks entirely possible.
But persisting with the idea that Frydenberg can put this deal together through a sheer act of will, that he can scale Everest minus his oxygen tank, that’s not the end of it either.
He still has to get legislation through the parliament. To get it through he’ll have to ensure any internal dissidents intent on “look at me” mischief making don’t do anything spectacularly unhelpful, like crossing the floor.
Then Labor will need to be persuaded to sign up. I think if Frydenberg can push through the various obstacles, the states and the colleagues, federal Labor is more likely to sign on than not, with clearly articulated caveats and conditions.
While that’s not yet a certainty, given at least some of Labor’s calculation will depend on the political contest they think they are in at the time the decision has to be made, the alternative is the ALP starting this whole process over from scratch in the event they win the next federal election.
I suspect that thought alone would give some in Labor nightmares, as would the thought of starting from scratch when their only viable dancing partner in the parliament is the Greens – a party in the midst of something of an identity crisis, a phenomenon that works against a spirit of compromise.                                          
As a price of entry, the Greens would want at a minimum a much higher emissions reduction target, a plan for shutting down coal fired power and structural adjustment assistance for workers, more subsidies for renewables, and significant government intervention in the electricity market including more generation to future-proof the grid once the transport fleet starts rolling over at pace to electric cars.
To cut a long story short, we could be back at Groundhog Day, where Labor attempts post-election to implement a climate and energy policy that the Greens insist needs to be made more ambitious, which then prompts opposition leader Peter Dutton to demand repeal.
For anyone who has lived through the colossal public policy failure of the past decade, the thought of enduring that zero sum cycle again will be enough to trigger a cold sweat.
However this story ultimately ends, this much is clear: it’s going to be a mind-focusing few months.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg says his own data was shared with Cambridge Analytica

Extract from ABC News

Updated 14 minutes ago.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed during a second day of sparring with US politicians over privacy concerns that he was among the 87 million users whose data was improperly shared.

Key points:

  • Mark Zuckerberg faces US House Energy and Commerce Committee
  • He defends Facebook's privacy practices, saying users have control over their own data
  • Mr Zuckerberg says Facebook does collect information on people not signed up

The admission that even the tech-savvy Facebook founder was unable to protect his own data underscored the problem Facebook has in persuading sceptical politicians that users can easily safeguard their own information.
"Every time that someone chooses to share something on Facebook … there is a control," he said.
"Right there. Not buried in the settings somewhere but right there."
Yet, when asked if his data had been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, he replied: "Yes." He gave no further details.

The 33-year-old internet magnate faced questions and concerns from members of the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, who asked what Facebook was doing to give users more flexibility to opt in to sharing their personal data with the company or third parties.
"How can consumers have control over their data when Facebook does not have control over the data?" asked Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey at the beginning of the hearing.
Mr Zuckerberg repeatedly defended the company's privacy practices, saying that users have control over their own data and decide what to share.

The Facebook boss said he was not familiar with so-called "shadow profiles", which media reports have described as collections of data about users that they have no knowledge of or control over.
He also said Facebook does not collect information from users' verbal conversations through mobile devices' microphones.
However, in a series of questions on how people can remove data from Facebook, Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook does "collect data on people who are not signed up for Facebook for security purposes".
He had no response when asked how a person who is not a Facebook member can remove information without first signing up for the service.

'It is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation'



Mr Zuckerberg was on Capitol Hill for the second time in two days to answer questions about data privacy.
It comes in the wake of revelations last month that millions of users' personal information was wrongly harvested from the website by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that has counted US President Donald Trump's election campaign among its clients.
The latest estimate of affected users is up to 87 million.
The data was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica by an academic who gathered data on users and their friends through a questionnaire app on Facebook.
Facebook has since shut off the ability of apps to gather such data, but Mr Zuckerberg said it would take "many months" to complete an audit of other apps to determine if they also improperly used data.
The House hearing came a day after a five-hour questioning by US senators, in which Mr Zuckerberg made no further promises to support new legislation or change how the social network does business.
Facebook shares in the US were up 1.5 per cent on Wednesday (local time) after dips earlier in the day.

They posted their biggest daily gain in nearly two years on Tuesday as Mr Zuckerberg managed to deter any specific discussion about new regulations that might hamper Facebook's ability to sell ads tailored to users' profiles.
"It is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation," Mr Zuckerberg said, but steered away from any specifics.
Some politicians grew frustrated at their limit of four minutes each to press Mr Zuckerberg on specifics, and chastised the billionaire at times for offering up rehearsed platitudes about valuing user privacy.
"I can't let you filibuster right now," Republican Marsha Blackburn said at one point. She cut Mr Zuckerberg off a number of times.
Democrat Bobby Rush was in the process of asking Mr Zuckerberg when he learned that Facebook allowed advertisers prevent to ads from being shown to certain minority groups, a possible violation of civil rights laws. He was cut off.
"I am indeed wary that you are only acting now out of concern for your brand and are making changes that should have been made long ago," Democrat Paul Tonko said.
Reuters

Trump’s latest tirade suggests he is moving closer to firing Mueller

On Twitter, Trump blamed ‘bad blood with Russia’ on the special counsel investigation and described the atmosphere in the White House as ‘calm and calculated’

Judging by six sharply worded tweets starting at sunrise Wednesday, Donald Trump is edging closer to taking irreversible action against a federal investigation that earlier this week sent FBI agents raiding the office of his longtime personal lawyer and trusted lieutenant, Michael Cohen.
By 9am, as well as threatening missile strikes in Syria, Trump had blamed “bad blood with Russia” on the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller, accused Mueller of a conflict of interest and characterized the atmosphere in the White House as “very calm and calculated”.
While scattershot in their targets, the tweets together communicated a sense of heightened agitation that Trump has displayed for three days now, ever since agents seized documents from Cohen including records of six-figure payments made to two women who have claimed to have had affairs with Trump before the 2016 election.
“Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama,” Trump wrote in one tweet, which went on to criticize Mueller and his superior, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who are both in fact Republicans first appointed to federal posts by Republican presidents.
“Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter),” Trump continued. “No Collusion, so they go crazy!”
“Fisa” refers to the foreign intelligence surveillance act, under which the FBI conducted surveillance during the presidential campaign of a Trump aide with Russia ties. The “Comey letter” refers to a May 2017 letter written by Rosenstein that recommended the firing of former FBI director James Comey.
The Mueller investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has produced indictments of or pleas from 19 individuals, including Trump’s former campaign chairman and first national security adviser, as well as three companies based in Russia. The prosecutors have not brought any charges specifically related to collusion so far.
Speculation that Trump may be nearing action against Mueller was fueled by a New York Times report on Tuesday night saying that Trump had demanded Mueller’s firing as recently as December, only to be dissuaded by the White House counsel and other legal advisers.
Perhaps more significantly, for Trump’s mood, the tweets also followed the publication of the first excerpts from an ABC News interview with James Comey in which the former FBI director reportedly compared Trump to a “mob boss”.
Comey is preparing a media blitz in support of a book to be released next week that he has framed as a showdown with Trump. A source present at the ABC interview told Axios that Comey is “going to shock the president and his team”.
It is not clear that the president could fire Mueller directly, despite a claim on Tuesday by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders that Trump has that power.
The president could however assign the task to a justice department official, although several possible candidates, perhaps including Rosenstein, would be likely to resign instead of carrying out the president’s order.
The prospect of firing Mueller was openly mooted on Fox News, which the president watches avidly, in a Tuesday report musing on “what might happen if the president decides to pull the plug” on the special counsel.
“The man who became famous for saying ‘you’re fired’ is facing what could be the most serious and consequential personnel decision of his life tonight,” the report said. Mueller is not a member of White House personnel, but rather a justice department appointment under a 1999 law passed by Congress.
The lawyer who drafted that statute, Neal Katyal, now a professor at Georgetown University, wrote on Tuesday on Twitter that Trump’s firing Mueller “would come at enormous cost, not just to the Justice Department and the Rule of Law, but also to him personally. It should be the end of the Trump presidency.”
Perhaps sensing the danger to their coalition, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have declined to echo Trump’s characterization of the special counsel investigation as a partisan “witch hunt”.
“It’s still my view that Mueller should be allowed to finish his job,” the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, told the Guardian on Tuesday. “I think that’s the view of most people in Congress.”
As he navigates this sensitive territory, Trump has recently lost the most experienced lawyer advising him on the matter, John Dowd, who resigned from the president’s legal team last month over a disagreement with the Trump about whether he should agree to be interviewed by Mueller.
Trump reportedly favored speaking with Mueller, despite concerns harbored by his counsel that he would make a statement known by Mueller’s team to be false based on the large body of evidence they have collected, which includes interviews, emails sent by the presidential transition team and documents subpoenaed from the Trump Organization.
None of that collection has so exercised the president as much as the raid on the office of Cohen, who for more than a decade has handled particularly sensitive matters for Trump and his children, including prospective real estate developments in Russia.
In addition to documents relating to payments made to women, the raid sought documents pertaining to an Access Hollywood tape that emerged in October 2016 in which Trump boasted he could “grab” women “by the pussy”, the New York Times reported. There have been no previous reports of any Cohen role in the Access Hollywood episode, and the nature of prosecutors’ interest in the affair was unclear.
Trump described a personal fight against Mueller in a tweet that might read differently if the president does in fact remove the special counsel.
“No Collusion or Obstruction (other than I fight back), so now they do the Unthinkable, and RAID a lawyers office for information!” Trump wrote. “BAD!”        

ABC changes 'unnecessary and unjustified', Michelle Guthrie says


Three bills before parliament to change the ABC charter and to disclose the salaries of presenters are unnecessary and unjustified, Michelle Guthrie has told a parliamentary committee.
One bill will amend the ABC Act 1983 to add a “fair and balanced” requirement to its charter, one will force the broadcaster to reveal the more information about ABC salaries, and a third will add a recognition of rural and regional Australia.
The ABC managing director said it was the ABC’s “very strong view” that its salary disclosures were “completely consistent” with guidelines set by the public service. “We believe that imposing additional disclosure requirements on public broadcasters is unnecessary and unjustified,” Guthrie told Senate estimates on Wednesday.
The ABC’s regional audiences are already well served by the allocation of one-third of the budget and any changes to the ABC Act are unnecessary, she said.
“It is very clear to us that we have [a requirement to be fair and balanced] in our editorial policies and it is unnecessary,” Guthrie said.
The Labor senator Kristina Keneally pursued a line of questioning that the ABC was facing “more than the usual level of parliamentary scrutiny” as a result of the Coalition’s backroom deals with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson to ensure its media bill was passed last year.
The “fair and balanced” bill was payback by Hanson and part of her vendetta against the ABC in retaliation for its investigative journalism, Labor senators said.
Guthrie said she would “fully participate” in the upcoming inquiry into whether the ABC was complying with competitive neutrality laws.

Facebook data breach: Aussies find out if they were affected by Cambridge Analytica access

Updated yesterday at 4:51pm
As Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg fronts a congressional inquisition, the social media giant has been notifying users if their information was caught up in the now-infamous Cambridge Analytica data breach.
While only 53 Australians actively shared their data with the "This Is Your Digital Life" app, more than 300,000 Aussies "may have" had their data improperly shared with the political consultancy group, Facebook has said.
Because of the way Facebook worked back in 2013, if you were friends with someone who used the app, some of your data was also collected and could have been shared with Cambridge Analytica.
Such is the power of social networks.
Facebook has been rolling out three different notifications in users' news feeds, letting them know whether they used the offending app, whether one of their friends did, or whether they appear to be safe from this particular breach.

But before you get that alert, you can check yourself by using this tool released by Facebook.
We asked our audience whether their data was included in the breach, and how they felt about it.
Unsurprisingly, none of the responses came from people who had used the app itself. But dozens of people got in touch saying they were caught up through friends who had.

Many responded with anger

I didn't use the application but because a friend of mine did my information was still shared. I did the careful thing by not using applications like This Is Your Digital Life but my information was still stolen and I couldn't deny permission and I think that's ridiculous — Shawn J
Really pissed off bc it was shared via an unnamed friend logging in to something I never touched so I don't have any clue how much info the friend had to share — Sara C

I'm extremely angry about this. I am so security minded and private person. To me it's bullshit. How can I trust them anymore? — Lori B
I feel angry and trespassed! — Ansu F
It appears … as I didn't use the app … but someone I know did … Cambridge Analytica, had access to my profile, picture, posts, likes, date of birth, where I live, work, etc. through them … I feel grumpy that this has happened … pissed that anyone can do and has done this … and I feel unprotected: unsafe!! - Katharine W

Others were a little more equivocal about the data breach

I didn't login to the app but apparently a friend did. Therefore my public information was shared. I guess public information is public information. I'd still like some say over how that's used but again, if it's in the public domain - anyone can access it — Andy D
Not great, but I accepted the lack of privacy when I signed up in 09 — Sami M
Only public data was really used, so I guess I understand — Daniel B

Inquiries are underway

How Facebook is using the data of Australian users is now the subject of two inquiries: one by the Privacy Commissioner and another by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
What they will conclude, and what action they will take, is not yet known.
The Cambridge Analytica saga has prompted Facebook to make changes, including restricting data access — mostly to outsiders and third parties.
That's on top of their plans to rearrange their privacy settings.
"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake," Mr Zuckerberg told the congressional committee.
"It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here."
For its part, Cambridge Analytica has denied wrongdoing but has been suspended from Facebook and had its London offices raided.

Is it worth paying for carbon offsets next time you fly?


When booking flights online you may be offered the option to offset your share of carbon emissions for a few extra dollars.
But where does the money go, what is it used for, and is it worth ticking that carbon offset box?
The option is there because aviation is responsible for about 2 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2016, Australia's domestic and international civil aviation sector released the equivalent of 22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
As a result, about a third of airlines offer some form of carbon offsetting, where customers pay a few extra dollars into a scheme which carries out environmental improvement projects.

How are carbon offsets calculated?

Calculations vary between airlines. Usually they take the total carbon emissions produced by your flight, based on past fuel usage, and divide it by the number of seats on the plane.
This is then multiplied by the cost of offsetting one tonne of carbon, according to their carbon offset scheme. So shorter trips are cheaper.
You'll be stung less than a dollar for a one-way Qantas flight between Melbourne and Sydney. A return ticket from Melbourne to London will set you back $50.96 in carbon offsets.

Where does the money go?

Airlines don't keep it, but direct it to carbon offset projects.
There are broadly two types of projects offered by airline offset schemes, the University of Queensland's Brent Ritchie said.
"There's the general forestry types, stopping cutting down trees or replanting trees.
"The others are related to energy efficiency, so they might be renewable energy projects."
Energy projects, Professor Ritchie said, usually help the community as well as the environment.
In interviews and focus groups, he and his colleagues found "people usually like those ones with the human element better".
Some projects are verified by rigorous standards. The National Carbon Offset Standard verifies carbon-neutral projects in Australia, for instance.
Still, not many travellers buy carbon offsets.
Qantas (including Jetstar) and Virgin Australia report about 10 per cent of passengers opt in.
Reasons for not buying carbon offsets are wide and varied, such as climate change denialism, unwillingness to pay more money and a mistrust of airlines.
The biggest barrier, though, is people simply don't have the information.
Professor Ritchie's interviews with travellers found they had little understanding of what happened to carbon offset payments.
Griffith University's Susanne Becken said airlines might see more people opt in by renaming carbon offsets to "environmental donations".
"Airlines haven't quite got around to moving away from that 'offset' term," Professor Becken said. "It's confusing."

So, is it worth paying for carbon offsets?

Yes ... insofar as it's better than nothing, said James Higham from the University of Otago in New Zealand.
But even if you pay, you're not stopping carbon dioxide produced by your flight from entering the atmosphere.
Land-based carbon offsetting, such as planting trees, might help suck in some atmospheric carbon dioxide, but nowhere near as much as flights pump into it.
"If you plant a tree, or plant a million trees, that doesn't really solve the problem because the carbon has been emitted and it's in the atmosphere," Professor Higham said.
"[The trees] may absorb some of the carbon dioxide, but then you have to maintain those trees.

What else are airlines doing to cut emissions?

The obvious answer is to use renewable energy. So when can we expect to fly overseas on solar-powered planes?
"Not in our lifetime, I'm afraid," Professor Higham said.
"I'm sorry to say that technology ain't going to save us on this one.
And because aviation emissions aren't covered by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the UN's International Civil Aviation Organisation and its member states signed a carbon offsetting deal in 2016.
Coming into effect in 2021, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA, will have airlines offset carbon emissions over 2020 levels by buying carbon credits from environmental projects.
CORSIA is separate to voluntary consumer carbon offsets.
But it's been criticised. For a start, the scheme will be voluntary for the first six years, Professor Higham said.
And in as-yet unpublished research, he and colleagues calculated that in the long run, CORSIA won't reduce emissions — there are too many loopholes for airlines to exploit.
An obvious airline emission-cutting measure is to get the biggest bang out of their fuel buck.
Each new generation of plane is more fuel efficient than the last, but that's an expensive measure, Professor Becken said.
So you may have noticed a few aircraft have implemented weight-loss measures — smaller tray tables, anyone?
Many Australian domestic flights don't have screens on the back of seats anymore.
This doesn't just free up the weight of the screens, it does away with hundreds of metres of cabling.
Airlines are also using high-tech, real-time weather tracking systems to take advantage of tail winds, Professor Becken said.

What else can flyers do to reduce their carbon footprint?

"We shouldn't be flying as much," Professor Ritchie said. "Let's be clear about that."
Professor Higham agrees.
"We need to really think about air travel," he said.
"I'm not saying for a minute that people stop flying and I'm not saying there should be less tourism.
"And if I do want to go to Europe, I'll save up my 'carbon budget' and my financial budget, and travel in a few years' time."
If you must fly, try to do a bit of research and choose to fly with an airline that has a good emission reduction record, Professor Becken said.
And if your airline doesn't have a reputable scheme, you can source your own airline carbon emission program.
There are plenty of not-for-profit organisations such as Atmosfair in Germany, MyClimate in Switzerland and Climate Care in the UK that calculate your carbon offset payments and direct that money to their own projects.
An alternative to offsetting is "insetting", or start your own carbon scheme, she added.
"You can apply it to yourself. Do you offset every one of your flights, or do you save the money to help buy solar panels for your house?"

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg tells Congress the company is in an 'arms race' with Russia

Extract from ABC News

Updated about an hour ago


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has begun a two-day congressional inquisition declaring his company is facing an "arms race" with Russia as foreign actors seek to interfere in elections.

Key points:

  • Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook hasn't taken a broad enough view of its responsibility
  • He says his company is attempting to change
  • Facebook shares make biggest daily gain in two years

Mr Zuckerberg told members of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees his company was trying to change in light of recent criticism.
"We've deployed new AI tools that do a better job of identifying fake accounts that may be trying to interfere in elections or spread misinformation," he said.
"There are people in Russia whose job it is to try to exploit our systems and other internet systems … so this is an arms race.
"They're going to keep on getting better at this and we need to invest in keeping on getting better at this too."
Amid concern from US politicians that Russia and other foreign powers will try to meddle in upcoming midterm elections, Mr Zuckerberg said security was being stepped up.
"We're going to have more than 20,000 people by the end of this year working on security and content review across the company," he said.

Mr Zuckerberg opened his appearance by taking responsibility for failing to prevent Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with Donald Trump's presidential campaign, from gathering personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections.
The Facebook founder had apologised many times already, to users and the public, but this was the first time in his career that he had gone before Congress.
"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake," he said.
"It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here."



The 33-year-old internet mogul was grilled on a range of issues from Facebook's handling of alleged Russian attempts at election interference to consumer privacy and hate speech.
"We are going through a broad philosophical shift at the company," said Mr Zuckerberg, wearing a dark suit and tie instead of his typical T-shirt and jeans.
John Thune, chairman of the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, struck an adversarial tone in his opening remarks.
"In the past, many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been willing to defer to tech companies' efforts to regulate themselves. But this may be changing," he said.

What else Zuckerberg had to say:

  • Facebook does not mine phone audio for data to target ads, calls idea "conspiracy theory"
  • His company is "working with" Robert Mueller in the federal probe of Russian interference
  • Facebook's slow reaction to Russian interference in 2016 is "one of my greatest regrets"
  • There will always be a version of Facebook that is free
  • "It certainly doesn't feel" like Facebook has a monopoly
  • Facebook won't "proactively" cooperate with Trump administration in extreme vetting of immigrants
  • Chinese internet companies are a strategic and competitive threat to US
  • Facebook's system to connect with other apps was designed "in a way that wasn't good"
  • Has concern about possible political bias at Facebook and is trying to root it out

Facebook shares soar

Outside the Capitol building, which houses Congress, online protest group Avaaz set up 100 life-sized cut-outs of Mr Zuckerberg wearing T-shirts with the words 'Fix Facebook'.
Facebook faces a growing crisis of confidence among users, advertisers, employees and investors after acknowledging that up to 87 million people, mostly in the United States, had personal information harvested from the site by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that has counted US President Donald Trump's election campaign among its clients.

It is also struggling to deal with fake news and alleged foreign interference in elections, disclosing in September that Russians under fake names used the social network to try to influence US voters in the months before and after the 2016 election, writing about inflammatory subjects, setting up events and buying ads.
In February, US Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with interfering in the election by sowing discord on social media.
Mr Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook in his Harvard University dorm room in 2004, is fighting to prove to critics that he is the right person to go on leading what has grown into one of the world's largest companies.
On Friday, Mr Zuckerberg threw his support behind proposed legislation requiring social media sites to disclose the identities of buyers of online political campaign ads.
Facebook shares closed with their biggest daily percentage gain in two years.
The shares, which had dropped sharply since the scandal emerged in March, finished up 4.5 per cent to their highest point in almost three weeks.


Reuters/AP