What we did and didn’t learn from Mark Zuckerberg’s 10 hours of questioning by US Congress

 

…And a selection of the best questions that really didn’t need to be asked.

It’s all we’ve heard about in the world of Social Media recently; how our privacy has been breached, how Cambridge Analytica were responsible for misusing data, how Facebook let everything happen, the world is ending, etc, etc..

So what does this data apocalypse mean for Facebook and what did we learn from watching Mark Zuckerberg sweat in an uncomfortable chair for 10 hours?

 

What didn’t we learn?

Not all that much on the Facebook front admittedly, which was to be expected with the types of lawyers Zuckerberg can afford.

In his pre-released statement Zuckerberg mentioned that the aim of Facebook had always been to bring people together, and advertisers and developers will never take priority over this;

“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”

 

 

What did we learn?

US Congress seemed to need some help understanding exactly what Facebook is? To the point that viewers took to Social Media to discuss that watching the lawmakers interrogate Zuckerberg comedically reminded them of trying to teach their grandparents about Social Media and new technology.

Although Senators hold hearings to learn more about a topic, most of the questions asked were either strange or misinformed and suggested that the US Congress need to learn how to ask the right complicated questions before they can really talk about regulating the platform and implementing policy.

 

Here are some of our favourite questions:

 

“How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?”

Zuckerberg politely responded with the obvious answer “Senator, we run ads”.

Surely someone missed the brief on this one.

“If I’m emailing within WhatsApp, does that ever inform your advertisers?”

This was really close to being a really good question, if it wasn’t for the fact that you don’t email in WhatsApp.

“Let’s say I’m emailing about Black Panther within WhatsApp, do I get a Black Panther banner ad?”

Solid follow-up. Still no emailing, though.

“My son Charlie, who’s 13, is dedicated to Instagram, so he’d want to be sure I mention him while I was here with you”

Nice shout-out but not really a question, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt.

“What was Facemash, and is it still up and running?”

Sadly, Missouri Representative Billy Long has apparently not seen The Social Network and was unaware that Facemash was made in Zuckerberg’s dorm room 15 years ago and shut down by Harvard within 2 days.

“These unverified divisive pages are on Facebook today *gestures to print out* … are you able to confirm whether they are Russian-created groups? Yes or no?”

Although there are conspiracies around Zuckerberg being a robot, we doubt he has the capabilities to see some randomly selected print-outs from across a crowded court room and tell you exactly who created them and where they are from.

All jokes (and hilarious memes) aside, when you get to the heart of the muddled questions it’s clear that the average person has very limited understanding of how Facebooks business works and what happens to their data. And perhaps, we’ve been caught up with worrying about other issues when we should have been paying attention to the boxes we were ticking and protecting our online privacy.

Join the conversation and get in touch with your view!

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