On Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on the hot seat. Cameras surrounded him. The energy in the room – and on Twitter – was electric. At last, the reluctant CEO is made to answer some questions!
Except it failed. It was designed to fail. It was a show designed to get Zuckerberg off the hook after only a few hours in Washington DC. It was a show that gave the pretense of a hearing without a real hearing. It was designed to deflect and confuse.
Every senator was given less than five minutes for questions. That meant that there was no room for follow-ups, no chance for big discoveries and many frustratingly half-developed ideas. Compare that to Bill Gates’ hearing on Microsoft, where he faced lawyers and staff for several days, or the Kefauver hearings, which were over a year. By design, you can’t do a hearing of this magnitude in a da
We shouldn’t be begging for Facebook’s endorsement of laws, or for Mark Zuckerberg’s promises of self-regulation
The worst moments of the hearing for us, as citizens, were when senators asked if Zuckerberg would support legislation that would regulate Facebook. I don’t care whether Zuckerberg supports Honest Ads, or privacy laws, or GDPR. By asking him if he would support legislation, the senators elevated him to a kind of co-equal philosopher King whose view on Facebook regulation carried special weight. It shouldn’t.Facebook is a known behemoth corporate monopoly. It has exposed at least 87 million people’s data, enabled foreign propaganda, and perpetuated discrimination. We shouldn’t be begging for Facebook’s endorsement of laws, or for Mark Zuckerberg’s promises of self-regulation. We should treat him as a danger to democracy, and demand our senators get a real hearing.
Congress tried to crack Zuckerberg – but Facebook still has all the power
The best senators understood this was a show, and used it as such. “Your user agreement sucks,” said Senator John Kennedy. “Are you a monopoly?” asked Senator Lindsey Graham (Zuckerberg comicly responded that he didn’t “feel” like it.) Senator Richard Blumenthal said we needed laws, not promises or apologies.
Because every senator was limited to under five minutes, Zuckerberg always tried to run the clock by talking about mission, or philosophy, or what he believed in. There were some good questions, but …
By Zephyr Teachout, an American academic, political activist, and former political candidate.
via the Guardian