Facebook's 750-page response to Congress repeats itself 437 times

More than half of the mammoth 748-page tome that Facebook delivered last Friday in answer to US lawmakers' questions is identical content that it has copied and pasted more than 400 times, IT Pro can reveal.

The document is a follow-up to Zuckerberg's hearing before the US House Energy and Commerce Committee in April, intended to answer some of the committee's questions in more detail. Its 748-page length is somewhat deceptive, however, as more than half of it is made up of ten boilerplate answers that are repeated throughout the document.

In fact, of the document's 370,833 words (which includes the questions from committee itself), Facebook's copied-and-pasted responses account for more than 200,000 of them.

IT Pro identified ten passages that are repeated verbatim, some more than 100 times. These covered Russian election interference, freedom of expression, privacy, data collection and other topics, including 42 instances where Facebook dismissed the question as "not germane to the hearing".

The vast majority of these repeated passages are in response to questions posed by Democratic Palo Alto Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who raised more than 500 questions and comments to Zuckerberg, as submitted by her constituents.

These included queries such as whether or not the CIA has access to Facebook accounts, to more rhetorical questions, including how he looks at himself in the mirror and how he would explain his conduct to his mother (both of which the company declined to answer).

Facebook's responses to Eshoo's questions, though lengthy, were often vague and frequently failed to actually address the question. Many questions about why it's so difficult to delete a Facebook account, for example, were met only with a boilerplate response on what types of data Facebook collects on people - which contains no information on account deletion.

Elsewhere in the gigantic document, Facebook revealed further details about its controversial data-sharing partnerships with 52 third-party companies, several of which have not yet been shut down. In particular, the company revealed that it had previously partnered with Chinese firms Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL, companies that US intelligence officials have warned may be linked to China's state surveillance apparatus.

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

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