Facebook will most likely survive its latest controversy, but it is important it become more forthcoming over how it uses its members' information, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Thursday.
"[Founder] Mark Zuckerberg has indicated he will testify before one of the House committees," Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "The focus I've had primarily on this has been how Facebook and other social media, including Twitter, were used in the context of trying to interfere in the 2016 election with an eye toward trying to prevent this from happening in the 2018 election."
Van Hollen said he and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have introduced legislation called the Deter Act, which creates "big disincentives" for entities to use information to tamper with elections.
Under the bill, if Russian President Vladimir Putin or others interfered, they would face "very stiff, very automatic sanctions," he added.
Facebook has been trying to take steps to protect its user base, the senator said, and have been investing "a lot of resources" to trying to track communications between overseas terrorists.
"The ultimate question is, to what extent are they responsible for their content as publishers?" he said. "It's a separate issue about using the information of the users for the purpose of advertising, and the main thing there is they need to be transparent and clear with their users about exactly what their data can be used for."
Van Hollen said lawmakers also want the same kind of transparency on Facebook with political advertising as traditional media faces, and he believes the company's statements indicate it is starting to do that.
"My instinct is Facebook, and if not Facebook, through some kind of regulation that we make sure that users of that kind of social media cannot allow their platforms to be used in any kind of discriminatory manner . . . clearly if they failed to do that, my view is there should be federal backstop," he said.
"There's a lot of different pieces to this conversation. We've already talked about publishing, talked about use of privacy information, talked about use of platforms for political advertising and campaigns, so there's clearly a lot to look at here. And I do believe when it comes to the use of the data it's important that people have that policies very clearly disclosed to them."
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