As I am sure you are aware, America’s vengeful nerd king faced off against a board of Senators who we were very pleased were able to avoid asking about “how to download the wifi” or to explain what memes were. The purpose of this hearing was… to, ahh… well, it was never made abundantly clear. I guess the Cambridge Analytica stuff? Don’t fret, because our Senators made sure to really rack Zuckerberg over the coals by giving him the authentic Facebook experience — a confused cluster of septuagenarians complaining about things they don’t completely understand. At one point, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS, 66 years old) became perplexed after Zuck mentioned using cookies to track Facebook users. “Oatmeal cookies, I hope, because this Fixodent has not been living up to the hype promised to during “Murphy Brown” reruns,” the Senator attempted to follow up.
Zuckerberg also had to explain how Facebook makes money (“we run ads”) and had to stave off a cranky Bill Nelson (D-FL, 75 years old) who complained that Facebook was showing him ads for chocolate BUT NOT THE KIND HE LIKED MR. ZUCKERBERG HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS. As embarrassing a display this was by a group of technologically illiterate Baby Boomers, we still should applaud how far we’ve come since Ted Stevens (R-AK, 83 years old at the time of the following comment) referred to the internet as a series of tubes. I have a hunch this piss-poor line of question was some combination of ignorance and sympathy for a company responsible for $11,510,000.00 of lobbying in 2017 and at least $3,100,000.00 in the first quarter of 2018 (https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000033563). Democracy is great!
During this hearing, everyone’s favorite-birthday-reminder-tool and Farmville-venue’s stock price closed up 4.5% at $165.04 for the stock’s largest rally since the Cambridge Analytica news broke; if you were curious what the markets thought of the hearing, they suddenly remembered the person largely responsible for the sophistication of the modern internet is facing off against a panel of senile poor people. Lest we remember this hearing as a humiliating expose for the lack of knowledge by the people running almost every aspect of our lives, let’s hit some of the other pertinent items from the Senate Apple Care session:
– Zuck admitted Facebook personnel had been working with Mueller in response to claims of Russian tampering.
– We learned the value of constant monitoring and monetization of your identity is worth roughly $12 to Facebook (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pFX2P7JLwA). Oh wait, our Senators didn’t touch on that.
– We undercovered how Facebook dredges your phone whether you give them person or not in order to find everyone you’ve ever met (https://gizmodo.com/how-facebook-figures-out-everyone-youve-ever-met-1819822691). Wait, we didn’t get there either.
– We learned Facebook uses shady and aggressive tactics to lure inactive users back, and does not delete their data even if you disconnect completely from the service (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-01-31/facebook-really-wants-you-to-come-back). Whoops that didn’t get addressed either. I’m starting to think this was a waste of everyone’s time!
– Facebook told us how it is bad for your mental health (https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/15/facebook-just-admitted-that-using-facebook-can-be-bad-for-you.html) and answered for internal emails stating their growth-at-all-cost model with the direct line, “maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.” (https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanmac/growth-at-any-cost-top-facebook-executive-defended-data?utm_term=.mpkooznj3l#.cdYjjvJAmk). No? Didn’t touch that one either?
– They said they would at least be developing software capable of identifying fake news and hate speech in the next five to ten years, at which point that software will be grossly outdated. Was Zuckerberg pressed on who is the arbiter of “fake news” or “hate speech” (which, just a polite reminder, is still protected under the First Amendment as free speech).
Geez it looks like the most-punchable-face in Silicon Valley got out of this hearing scot-free. Just kidding! Look at the little baby-man sitting in his big-boy seat!
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