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Here Are Some Ways Washington Could Rein In Facebook

Regulation is coming.

Regulation is coming.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
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Congress has warned Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook Inc. chief executive, that the era of self-regulation for social media is likely over, following Facebook’s data breach and Russia’s use of the social-media behemoth in its disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election. During hearings in the U.S. Senate and House, Zuckerberg agreed that some regulation is inevitable, even desirable, though he wouldn’t be locked down on specifics. Whether lawmakers can agree on anything, how far it should go, and the implications for Facebook’s $55 billion in projected revenue this year are far from settled. Here are some of the ideas floating around:

Tougher rules for companies that collect and use consumer data go into effect in the European Union next month, and the Facebooks, Googles and Twitters of the world are already figuring out how to comply. Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to extend some of those protections worldwide. The General Data Protection Regulation sets new standards for any holder of sensitive data, from Amazon to local government councils. They must post clear terms and conditions for users and get “unambiguous” consent. Consumers get to have some information erased under a “right to be forgotten.” Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and John Kennedy, a Republican, have proposed a measure that tracks some of the EU rules. Enacting sweeping new privacy laws in the U.S. is a tall order, however. Many members of Congress, though they might not like Facebook, are still skeptical of regulation.