Facebook Inc shares rose on Tuesday to their highest in almost three weeks as Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg fended off questions from U.S. senators on how the social network handles user data and plans to counter attempts at interfering in U.S. elections.
Zuckerberg repeated his apologies made on Monday for a range of problems that have beset the world’s largest social network, but the 33-year-old internet mogul broke little new ground in a joint hearing of the U.S. Senate’s Commerce and Judiciary committees, raising investor hopes he could forestall strict regulation.
“We are going through a broad philosophical shift at the company,” said Zuckerberg, wearing a dark suit and tie instead of his typical T-shirt and jeans.
“Zuckerberg is conciliatory in his presentation,” said Mariann Montagne, portfolio manager at Gradient Investments in Arden Hills, Minnesota. “The stock is running up on his comments. Maybe people like seeing Zuckerberg in a suit.”
Facebook shares closed up 4.5 percent at $165.04.
Outside the U.S. Capitol building, online protest group Avaaz set up 100 life-sized cutouts of 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 consultancy that has counted U.S. 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 U.S. voters in the months before and after the 2016 election, writing about inflammatory subjects, setting up events and buying ads.
“We believe it is entirely possible that there will be a connection there,” Zuckerberg said when asked if there was overlap between Cambridge Analytica’s harvested user data and the political propaganda pushed by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency during the 2016 presidential election, which Facebook has said was seen by some 126 million people.
In February, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with interfering in the election by sowing discord on social media.
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, Zuckerberg threw his support behind proposed legislation requiring social media sites to disclose the identities of buyers of online political campaign ads.
Reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington and David Ingram in San Francisco; Additional reporting by David Shepardson and Andy Sullivan in Washington, April Joyner in New York; Editing by Bill Rigby, Meredith Mazzilli and Peter Cooney
Greenland row is Donald Trump positioning for an Arctic battle: expert
The diplomatic row that has erupted between Washington and Copenhagen over Greenland is just one part of a broader strategic battle being waged over control of the Arctic, according to one expert.
US President Donald Trump has cancelled a trip to Denmark and launched a war of words with his Danish counterpart, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, after she rejected his idea of the US buying Greenland as "absurd".
Mikaa Mered, professor of polar geopolitics at Paris' ILERI institute of international relations said Trump's unsolicited advances on the autonomous territory were a way to indicate US interest in the resource-rich Arctic -- and to distract from domestic issues.
‘We won’t give an inch’: India faces defiance in ‘Kashmir’s Gaza’
Young men sit beside a pile of rocks and a bonfire, protecting the only entrance to a besieged neighbourhood they call "Kashmir's Gaza" as a mosque loudspeaker broadcasts slogans of liberation.
In an act of defiance against New Delhi's controversial decision to strip the Muslim-majority region of its autonomy, Soura neighbourhood on the outskirts of Kashmir's main city of Srinagar has sealed itself off from security forces.
Since early August, residents have erected ramshackle barricades of tin sheets, wooden logs, oil tanks and concrete pillars, and dug trenches to keep soldiers at bay amid daily protests against India.
Second day of Italy crisis talks after prime minister resigns
Italy's president will hold a second day of talks aimed at solving the political crisis shaking the country on Thursday after the disintegration of the populist government.
President Sergio Mattarella will meet the main parties, including the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and far-right League, after the breakdown of their dysfunctional coalition.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned on Tuesday after months of alliance sniping and a bid by League leader and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to force a snap election, just 14 months since coming to power.
The nationalist, populist government's demonisation of migrants, promoted by Salvini in particular, and attempts to flout EU budget rules had angered many European leaders.