Politics US Senator comes under fire for 'Swahili' remark during Zuckerberg testimony

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Zuckerberg faced hours of questioning over Facebook data breach

play Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress on data sharing. (AFP)

A US senator has come under fire for his ‘Swahili’ reference at a Tuesday Senate hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, was questioning Zuckerberg on Facebook’s user agreement, which he said is too complicated and meant to legally protect Facebook and not to inform users of their rights.

play Senator John Kennedy and Mark Zuckerberg (Courtesy)


He asked Zuckerberg to request the company lawyers to write his user agreement in “English and non-Swahili” so the broader public could understand it.

“I am going to suggest to you that you go back home and you rewrite it and tell your $1,200-an hour lawyers, no disrespect, they're good, but tell them that you want it written in English and non-Swahili, so the average American can understand it. That would be a start,” Kennedy said.

The senator's remarks stirred a heated debate online with social media users terming the "Swahili" reference a racial slur.

Questioned by CNN‘s Erin Burnett later on whether he should apologize for the reference following the outrage it caused, Sen. Kennedy said “there is nothing to apologize for. I think everyone understood the point I’m trying to make.”

Zuckerberg faced hours of questioning before Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees about Cambridge Analytica, which used personal data for its political strategies, and other security concerns on the social network.