Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returns from a break as he testifies at a hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Associated Press/Andrew Harnik

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation said they are monitoring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on Capitol Hill this week as lawmakers delve into data sharing and privacy concerns on the social media platform.

None of Maine’s delegation members serve on the Senate or House committees questioning Zuckerberg this week, although Sen. Angus King pointed out that the Senate Intelligence Committee had asked him to testify earlier.

“When the Intel Committee held a hearing on social media disinformation, Facebook, Twitter, and Google sent lawyers instead of their CEOs,” the independent wrote in a tweet on Tuesday. “I said at the time, and maintain today, that we needed to hear from the decision-makers – I’ll be following closely today.”

Sen. Susan Collins said she spent most of the afternoon in a classified intelligence briefing and was unable to follow the hearing closely.

“From the little I was able to see, it seemed that Mr. Zuckerberg understands the depth of concerns about Facebook’s serious missteps and the importance of protecting users’ privacy,” Collins said in an emailed statement. “I hope that Facebook and other platforms will work with Congress so that we can improve the regulatory framework in a way that will not stifle innovation and will allow people to continue to enjoy the connectivity that is available through social media.”

During more than four hours of testimony, Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook has not done enough to prevent users’ data from “being used for harm” even as he repeatedly stressed that users have broad control over what data they share. Zuckerberg’s first-ever appearance before Congress follows months of reports on Russia’s alleged use of social media to interfere in the 2016 elections as well as Cambridge Analytica’s harvest of data on an estimated 87 million users.

Collins, a Republican, is concerned about the ability of Russia and other foreign powers to use Facebook to disrupt U.S. elections and said the company was too slow to react to the manipulative use of its platform.

“Moving forward, Facebook must be a willing and committed partner in our efforts to thwart these foreign threats against Americans and the democratic process,” Collins said.

Some on Capitol Hill are discussing the possibility of additional regulations on how Facebook and other applications use consumers’ private data.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, said such regulatory proposals will have to be carefully evaluated.

“Congressman Poliquin finds the abuse of unsuspecting customers’ data by Facebook very concerning,” Poliquin spokesman Brendan Conley said in a statement. “Consumers should have information about the products they buy or use, and, in this case, the personal data that’s used and collected when they use programs like Facebook. Any proposals for regulations will need to be evaluated individually. The Congressman will be monitoring the hearings today and tomorrow in the House and Senate.”

A spokesman for Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, has previously said Facebook “has operated like the wild west” in a way that enabled abuse by outside actors. A Pingree spokesman said the Democrat was monitoring this week’s hearings and referred to a Monday statement on Zuckerberg’s anticipated appearances.

“Taking responsibility for what his company allowed to happen is just the first step – I want to hear how he plans to better safeguard our information and the integrity of our democratic process in the future,” Pingree said on Monday.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

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