Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, faced some hard times in front of the US Congress as his two day long testimonial wrapped up on Wednesday. While the senators pressed Zuckerberg over Facebook’s policies in the wake of massive data privacy breaches, Cambridge Analytica scandal, general regulatory policies and so on, they also somewhat riddled the tech mogul with scrambled and awkward questions where they struggled with the seemingly complicated technology they were asking questions of.
Here are some of the oddest moments from Mark’s long testimony that would have been painful if they were not funny.
When Facebook became a monopoly
Senator Lindsey Graham is a good debater, no doubt, and clearly knows how to throw her opponents off guard. When she casually asked Mark if Facebook had any big competitors in the market, Zuckerberg responded that it had plenty. The senator then asked him to name a few or at least a primary one and found Mark stumbling on that one. That lead the Senator to ask him if Facebook was a monopoly to which Mark Zuckerberg replied “It certainly doesn’t feel like one to me” as he drew a few laughs from the crowd.
Rest assured, Facebook isn’t a monopoly, Mark says. Or is it? Let’s just say this article won’t get shared on Google Plus.
Ted Cruz wanted to use his time to question Mark on why Facebook has a bias against conservatives. He asked him about why Facebook had shut down the Chick-Fil-A appreciation day page and recently did the same with Trump supporters Diamond and Silk page, the latter with around 1.2 million followers.
He also went on to ask if Mark knew about the political orientation of his employees that might result in a bias against some political views, to which Mark replied that Facebook doesn’t hire people on the basis of their political orientation.
Many on twitter slammed Ted Cruz for focusing on a chicken joint’s page shutting down instead of asking him about other important topics. Well, maybe he did feel a little off about his favorite chicken place’s page shutting down. Who wouldn’t?
Mark Zuckerberg explains the internet
Perhaps the most awkward moments for Mark were the ones where the senators struggled to speak the language of the internet. Senator Hatch asked Mark how he sustains a business model where the users don’t need to pay for the service. Mark replied “Senator, we run ads” and chuckled. More chuckles followed as Senator Schatz asked if the algorithms could speak to each other and spill out private conversations about Black Panther, conversations on WhatsApp, nonetheless. And Mark found himself out of words when Senator Deb Fischer asked, and we quote, “How many data categories does Facebook store on the categories that you collect?”
What are “data categories”, we wonder.
“Your User Agreement Sucks”
Senator John Kennedy didn’t hold back anything. He blatantly said that Facebook’s user agreement was written in order to save “Facebook’s rear end” and not to inform people of their rights. He basically challenged Mark to rewrite the agreement in English so that the average American understands it.
“Your user agreement sucks” he said. Mark didn’t make a strong reply however and had an awkward smile instead.
Although he said he was putting it as gently as he could, I’d say he was pretty rude. *Awkward*
The conspiracy theory
Gary Peters claimed he had heard rising fears that Facebook is mining audio from the users’ mobile devices for the purpose of ad targeting. Mark Zuckerberg turned down this claim by saying that this was a conspiracy theory by teenagers and Facebook does not collect personal audio from users; mobile devices without their consent for the purpose of ad-targeting.
Although the concern was not particularly dumb enough to ridicule at right away, are the senators starting to believe in conspiracy theories? At least it’s a part of public record now and conspiracy theorists can go back into their tin-foiled hideouts for now.
For more on conspiracy theories, keep an eye out on the entertainment section of HiFi for “5 conspiracy theories that shook the world”, coming soon.