A look Into Zuckerberg’s Notes For The US Senate Hearing
  • Mark Zuckerberg makes his appearance in front of the US Congress, after being asked to do so in light of the Cambridge Analytica incident.
  • To help him during the hearing, Zuckerberg brought a thick binder of notes covering multiple important topics, and how he should respond to them.
  • A photographer managed to get a picture of two pages of his notes which discloses much information on how Zuckerberg was planning to handle the hearing.

Following the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify in front of the US Congress. Apparently, 87 million users’ personal data were siphoned and misused by CA which happened due to Facebook not taking user privacy seriously. There is also news that the stolen data was used to influence voters during the 2016 presidential elections. Now, as Zuckerberg came to testify in front of a house of senators, he brought with him a thick binder of notes addressing certain issues of relevance and guiding him on how to tackle these questions.

Of Course, the notes were not voluntarily disclosed but thanks to photojournalists in the room, we now have access to two pages of these notes.

AP photographer Andrew Harnik Zuckerberg's Notes
Image Courtesy of AP photographer Andrew Harnik

The best picture of Zuckerberg’s notes was taken by AP photographer Andrew Harnik, from which you can clearly get a glimpse into how Zuckerberg prepared for the hearing. As you too can see from the picture, the notes are divided into sections and each section consisting of bullet points of things the CEO ought to keep in mind.

Some notable highlights from Zuckerberg’s notes would be the brief summation of all relevant information pertaining to Cambridge Analytica incident, as well as a short point on being resentful for not doing more audit, and refraining from telling people. After CA, there was the Compensation section which highlights the kinds of information which were compromised, and then there was a heading – Reverse lookup, which cites all measures taken by the social media company in light of the incident.

Following this there are many more sections headed as Accountability, Data Safety, Business Model (Ads), […]/wellbeing, Defend Facebook, Tim Cook on biz model, Disturbing content, Election integrity (Russia), Diversity, Competition, and finally at the end of the second page we get few points on GDPR.

Here is a comprehensive look at the entire two pages of notes uncovered from the photograph.

Cambridge Analytica

  • Breach of trust; sorry we let it happen; took steps in 2014 to stop it happening again.
  • Quiz app designed by Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan.
  • People who used app gave Kogan FB information like public profile, page likes, friend list + birthday; same for friends’ whose settings allowed sharing; NO credit card/SSN info.
  • Kogan sold to CA in violation of our terms; when we found out, told them to delete data.
  • Confirmed they had — now seems untrue. Should have done more to audit + tell people.
  • Didn’t think enough about abuse; rethinking every part of our relationship with people.


  • Important issue but no credit card information or SSN shared.
  • People gave Kogan access to Facebook information like their public profile, page likes, friend list, birthday; same for friends’ whose settings allowed sharing.
  • 2014 changes mean it couldn’t happen now; restricted apps’ access to data even further.

Reverse lookup (scraping)

  • Found out about abuse two weeks ago, shut it down.
  • Useful to find someone by phone number/email; if people have the same name.
  • Malicious actors linked public info (name, profile photo, gender, user ID) to phone numbers they already had; shut it down. Need to do more to prevent abuse.


  • Fire people for CA?: It’s about how we designed the platform. That was my responsibility. Not going to throw people under the bus.
  • Do you ever fire anyone?: Yes; hold people accountable all the time; not going to go into specifics.
  • Resign?: Founded Facebook. My decisions. I made mistakes. Big challenge, but we’ve solved problems before, going to solve this one. Already taking action.
  • No accountability for MZ?: Accountable to you, to employees, to people who use FB.

Data safety:

  • I use FB every day, so does my family, invest a lot in security.
  • Made mistakes, working hard to fix them.
  • Giving people more controls, just yesterday stated showing people their app controls.

Business model (ads)

  • Want FB to be a service that everyone can use, has to be free, can only do that with ads.
  • Key for me is mission — helping people connect. Business model supports that mission.
  • Let’s be clear: Facebook doesn’t sell data. You own your information. We give you controls.
  • People know […] need ads; tell us if they have to see ads, want them to be relevant.


  • Facebook […] not time spent; time spent fell 5% Q4; pivot to MSI.
  • […]ssesm[..] to communicate with kids; MK gives parents control.
  • […] like N[…] have commercial ads. We have no plans to do so.

Defend Facebook

  • [If attacked: Respectfully, I reject that. Not who we are.]
  • Billions people globally use FB every day to connect to the people that matter.
  • Families reconnected, people met and gotten married, movements organized, tens of millions of SMBs now have better tools to grow and create jobs.
  • More work to do, but can’t lose sight of all the ways people are using FB for good.

Tim Cook on biz model

  • Bezos: “Companies that work hard to charge you more and companies that work hard to charge you less.”
  • At FB, we try hard to charge you less. In fact, we’re free.
  • [On data, we’re similar. When you install an app on your iPhone, you give it access to some information, just like when you login with FB.
  • Lots of stories about apps misusing Apple data, never seen Apple notify people.
  • Important you hold everyone to the same standard.]

Disturbing content

  • It’s very disturbing; and sadly we do see bad things on Facebook.
  • Should have no place on our service; community standards prohibit hate, bullying, terror.
  • Working to be more proactive; AI, hiring more people e.g. terror, e.g. suicide.
  • Will never be perfect; but making huge investments.

Election integrity (Russia)

  • Too slow, making progress. France, Germany, Alabama.
  • Midterms are important, but not just in the US — Brazil, Mexico, Hungary.
  • Just announced committee of academics to commission independent research on social media on democracy.


  • Silicon valley has a problem, and Facebook is part of the problem.
  • Personally care about making progress; long way to go [3% African American, 5% Hispanics].


  • Consumer choice: consumers have lots of choice over how they spend their time
  • Small part of ad market: advertisers have choices too — $650 billion market, we have 6%.
  • Break up FB?: US tech companies key asset for America, break up strengthens Chinese companies.

GDPR (Don’t say we already do what GDPR requires)

  • People deserve good privacy tools and controls wherever they live.
  • We build everything to be transparent and give people control. GDPR does a few things:
  • Provides control over data use — what we’ve done for a few years.
  • Requires consent — done a little bit, now doing more in Europe and around the world.
  • Get special consent for sensitive things e.g. facial recognition.
  • Support privacy legislation that is practical, puts people in control and allows for innovation.