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WASHINGTON - Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that his company is working with special counsel Robert Mueller in the sweeping Russia investigation, during his first appearance before Congress Tuesday over a data breach scandal.

Zuckerberg, during a hours-long grilling, told 44 US senators that Facebook is working with Mueller's team, but stressed that he wants to be careful because the "work with the special counsel is confidential."

The congressional hearing came nearly a month after news broke that Cambridge Analytica, a data consulting firm with ties to President Donald Trump's campaign, accessed information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Russian groups were alleged to have taken advantage of the social media platform to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election.

Facebook was "too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference," Zuckerberg said. "It's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm."

"And that goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy," the 33-year-old CEO added, in an apologetic tone, noting that Facebook plans to have more than 20,000 employees working in security and content review by the end of this year.

He also revealed that Facebook is developing artificial intelligence technology in order for hate speech to be "flagged upfront" in five or 10 years.

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