Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are testifying in Congress today. Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, has been an outspoken critic of the tech companies, and thus it’s no surprise that he grilled Zuckerberg.
Senator Hawley asked Zuckerberg about an internal employee tool, Centra, that can be used to track the Facebook users.
“Centra is a tool that Facebook uses to track its users, not just on Facebook, but across the entire internet,” said Senator Hawley. “Sentra tracks different profiles that a user visits, their message recipients, their linked accounts, the pages they visit around the web that have Facebook buttons. Sentra also uses behavioral data to monitor users’ accounts, even if those accounts are registered under a different name.”
Zuckerberg said he wasn’t familiar with a tool of that name and would follow up with Senator Hawley later. Senator Hawley sarcastically implied that Zuckerberg was feigning amnesia: “It’s always amazing to me, Mr. Chairman, how many people before this committee suddenly develop amnesia. Maybe it’s something about the air in the room.”
“What we have here is clear evidence of coordination between Twitter, Google, and Facebook. Mr. Zuckerberg knows he has the tools to track this, but he doesn’t remember or won’t commit to letting us see it,” Senator Hawley concluded at the end. “We have evidence of Facebook tracking its own users all across the web. Mr. Zuckerberg won’t answer questions about it, can’t remember the name, isn’t sure if the tool is deployed in this way, and won’t commit to giving us basic information. I submit to you that this is both totally unacceptable and totally predictable, because it’s exactly what these tech companies have done to the American people and to Congress for years now, which is why it’s time we take action against these modern-day robber barons.”