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Wednesday, 11 April 2018


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees hearing.
You're forgiven if you didn't watch all five-plus hours of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answering questions during a joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees hearing on Tuesday.

Even if you were watching, it's entirely likely that you missed a crucial, brief segment around the two-hour mark, where Senator John Cornyn asked Zuckerberg about how Facebook handles ex-user data.

Though somewhat unrelated to what Senator Cornyn asked, Zuckerberg's answer was a fascinating, concise look into how Facebook turns its vast quantity of user data into profit.

"There's a very common misperception about Facebook — that we sell data to advertisers," Zuckerberg said on Tuesday. "And we do not sell data to advertisers. We don't sell data to anyone."

Indeed, Facebook makes it money through advertising. Facebook doesn't provide data to advertisers — it does the work for them.

Here's Zuckerberg explaining it to Senator Cornyn on Tuesday's Senate hearing:

"What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach, and then we do the placement. So, if an advertiser comes to us and says, 'All right, I am a ski shop and I want to sell skis to women,' then we might have some sense, because people shared skiing-related content, or said they were interested in that, they shared whether they're a woman, and then we can show the ads to the right people without that data ever changing hands and going to the advertiser."

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