Mark Zuckerberg’s first day of Senate testimony was mostly superficial talking points

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Mark Zuckerberg answered questions from the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees for about five hours yesterday. I watched about a half hour of it towards the end and he was answering basic questions about how Facebook worked. It seemed superficial and not that difficult for him. Zuckerberg clearly had his talking points and was sticking to them. The hearing was not set up for Zuckerberg to be asked in depth questions as each senator had just five minutes to ask him questions. Many of them asked questions about how Facebook worked and seemed unaware of the basics. Zuckerberg said he would follow up on the tougher questions and then spent the time answering the things he knew. He’s testifying again today in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and hopefully the representatives will be more prepared and pointed in their questions. It seemed like many of the Senators didn’t do their homework. One exception yesterday was Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) who asked Zuckerberg why the users were never informed when Facebook learned in 2015 that Cambridge Analytica had been misusing their data.

Harris, whose turn came later in the day, immediately reeled off a list of inquiries Zuckerberg had seemed to successfully parry.

“During the course of this hearing, these last four hours, you’ve been asked several critical questions for which you don’t have answers,” Harris began. “Those questions have included whether Facebook can track users’ browsing activity even after the user has logged off of Facebook; whether Facebook can track your activity across devices even when you aren’t logged into Facebook; who is Facebook’s biggest competition; whether Facebook may store up to 96 categories of users’ information; whether you knew (data scientist Aleksandr) Kogan’s terms of service and whether you knew that Kogan could sell or transfer data.”

The list went on. Harris then asked Zuckerberg if he had taken part in, or was aware of, any conversation among Facebook executives in which it was decided more than two years ago not to immediately notify users that their information had been shared with the data firm Cambridge Analytica.

“I’m not sure what other people discussed,” Zuckerberg said, adding after Harris pressed him, “I don’t remember a conversation like that.”

[From CNN]

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) questioned Zuckerberg about the fact that Facebook is being used to track activists including the Black Lives Matter movement and the fact that companies have been able to use Facebook data to target and exclude certain communities in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Zuckerberg said he was “committed” to safeguarding user information and “we should follow up on the details” of how civil rights organizations might audit facebook to ensure that it’s not being misused.

Facebook is a monopoly with vast amounts of data on hundreds of millions of people. Sen. Lindsey Graham (D-SC) tried to push Zuckerberg to say whether he thought Facebook was a monopoly and he answered “Doesn’t feel like that to me.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) very pointedly told Zuckerberg “Your user agreement sucks.” I agree that Facebook sucks in general. While Zuckerberg may have had the media training to be able to sit for a few hours and rehash talking points, he didn’t instill much faith in Facebook protecting user data moving forward. The decision in 2015 not to inform users about Cambridge Analytica tells us all we need to know about their commitment to privacy.

Facebook has changed the course of history. By sitting back and doing nothing in 2015 they enabled a series of events that helped put Trump in power and which will negatively affect the most vulnerable people in the US and the world for years to come. I don’t think I’m overstating this. Zuckerberg needs to answer to more than just five minutes of questioning from each senator. He did confirm yesterday that Facebook is working with Mueller on the investigation into Russian interference in the election, but said he had not personally been interviewed. Facebook needs to be investigated as well.

Also, my son showed me photos of this pillow Zuckerberg sat on yesterday during the hearings. It’s being called a booster seat, but apparently it’s provided by the committee and wasn’t something Zuckerberg brought with him.

Here’s Sen. Harris questioning Zuckerberg:

Also, Zuckerberg’s notes got exposed during the meeting. TechCrunch has larger text of what was written. Zuckerberg was prepared to defend himself in case he was asked to resign. He wasn’t.

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photos credit: Getty and via Twitter

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17 Responses to “Mark Zuckerberg’s first day of Senate testimony was mostly superficial talking points”

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  1. PoodleMama says:

    Who cut his hair??

    • j says:

      hahaha seriously. i can’t believe this is the guy who defined what it means to be cool in the 21st century.

  2. Neelyo says:

    I’m glad to see this little shit is aging in dog years. It’s not much but it’s some consolation.

  3. Dee says:

    Honestly, I think if Facebook is your source of information/news, there are bigger problems. You should be aware enough to think for yourself and not look to social media to form an opinion. Facebook is for shits and giggles.

    Zuckerberg is a thieving loser who just happens to be good with computers. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing remarkable about him (considering he stole the idea of facebook anyway and scammed a ton of people out of what they rightfully worked for) and he’s either not as bright as he makes himself seem or he sat in front of a mirror and rehearsed everything he said.

    And, just an FYI to avid facebook users – they have you labeled as a certain party based on what you like/click on, which filters out the content they show you. Which, to me, is complete BS because even if I am a liberal I want to see EVERYTHING. Which is why I don’t go to facebook for anything but dumb videos and cute pics of my friends kids. (Settings – Ads – Your information – Your categories)

  4. Clare says:

    OMG guys – Ted Cruz’ line of questioning was such a joke.

    Almost as comedic as Hatch reading his notes in size 28 font.

    Having said that can we stop pretending to be shocked by Cambridge Analytica etc?
    Basically the whole thing is an enormous farce.

    • Parigo says:

      It’s all a joke. They’re playing concerned cause they’re roasting what they think is liberal Silicon Valley, but they all profited from it.

  5. j says:

    these hearings are stupid. take Facebook to court for antitrust violations or introduce new legislation to regulate them. everything else is banana republic PR spectacle.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      You’re so right! I agree that hearings can be useful in many cases, such as when Comey testified last year. However, charges need to be brought against Facebook and bills need to be passed to legislate them ASAP!

  6. Cee says:

    Zuckerberg should have been in the company of Google, Amazon, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

  7. Lizzie says:

    Zuckerberg is such a sniveling douche. i wish someone, point blank would have told him to cut the shit with his “we started in a dormroom” line. we get it you didn’t consider the implications of FB when you started but you’ve been with the company the whole time and are an adult now. here is the only question for him and every single senator should have asked it until he answered: if you’re so smart why didn’t you see what was happening and if you saw what was happening why didn’t you stop it?

    • hmmm says:

      The narrative he pushed is an image of a startup by a naive college kid. He clearly sees nothing wrong with what he does, and merely paid lip service to the questioning. Besides being a congenital liar, he’s a sociopath, IMO, and should be in prison for criminal acts. I hope Facebook completely tanks.

  8. Jaded says:

    That smug POS should resign.

  9. K-Peace says:

    I can’t wait until the downfall of Facebook. It’s an evil entity that has made the world a worse place. I don’t use it at all, and wish more people would do the same.

  10. IMUCU says:

    I wish they would have put the same effort of calling out the credit agencies when that big breach was announced last year. That was even more potentially problematic information to get out (SSNs, credit card info, etc.) but I guess Facebook privacy isssues are easier to understand for the general public than how the credit agencies work, and FB isn’t in the pockets of the politicians like the credit agencies are.

    Reddit had some funny Photoshop Battle posts of Zuckerburg sitting on his booster seat.