clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mark Zuckerberg didn’t testify to Congress on Russia, but says he’s ‘dead serious’ about fixing things

He’s so serious, in fact, that he says it will “significantly impact” Facebook’s bottom line.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg David Ramos / Getty

Mark Zuckerberg did not testify in front of Congress this week to explain how Russian actors used Facebook to try and spread disinformation during last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Facebook sent the company’s top lawyer instead.

But Zuckerberg wants everyone to know that he is still taking Russia’s election meddling seriously. In fact, he says he’s “dead serious,” and even told Wall Street on Wednesday that Facebook’s business could suffer because he plans to spend so much time and money trying to ensure that it never happens again.

“I've directed our teams to invest so much in security — on top of the other investments we’re making — that it will significantly impact our profitability going forward,” Zuckerberg said on the call. (He posted a copy of his statements to his Facebook page shortly after.) “I believe this will make our society stronger and in doing so will be good for all of us over the long term. But I want to be clear about what our priority is: Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.”

Investors didn’t necessarily love that. Despite posting a record quarter, Facebook’s stock is down slightly in after-hours trading, probably because of Zuckerberg’s spending plans.

The Facebook CEO essentially issued a threat to Russia, or any other foreign actor who thinks they’ll be able to use Facebook to influence an election in the future.

“I've expressed how upset I am that the Russians tried to use our tools to sow mistrust,” he said. “What they did is wrong and we’re not going to stand for it.”

“Now, for those who have followed Facebook, you know that when we set our minds to something, we're going to do it,” Zuckerberg continued. “It may be harder than we realize upfront, it may take longer, and we won't be perfect, but we will get it done. We're bringing the same intensity to these security issues that we've brought to any adversary or challenge we’ve faced.”

Facebook has already promised to change some of its advertising policies to try and ensure shady marketers can’t slip through the cracks. He also claims that Facebook has 10,000 employees, including contractors, working on “safety and security,” and has promised to double that number to 20,000 employees in the next year.

Facebook CFO Dave Wehner said on Wednesday’s earnings call that Facebook expenses are set to increase between 45 percent and 60 percent next year. He put security improvements at the top of the list when explaining why.

Despite Zuckerberg’s promise that Facebook is taking Russia’s disinformation campaign seriously, some members of Congress were not happy that Zuckerberg — and the CEOs from Twitter and Google — did not show up in Washington, D.C., Tuesday and Wednesday to answer their questions.

Sen. Angus King of Maine was particularly peeved.

“I’m disappointed that you’re here, and not your CEOs,” he told the lawyers that the companies did send. “It’s fine to send general counsel, but I think if you could take a message back from this committee, if we go through this exercise again, we would appreciate seeing the top people who are actually making the decisions.”

Here’s Zuckerberg’s full post:

We just announced our quarterly results and gave an update on our community. The most important thing I discussed was...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, November 1, 2017

This article originally appeared on