What could have been a harsh trial for Facebook’s chief ended up a ax-grinding session for politicians — that involved only surface-level discussion of Facebook’s data security policy.
So what was supposed to happen?
Congress convened the hearing after the Cambridge Analytica scandal — where lax FB data policies caused millions to fall victim to a behavioral manipulation campaign run by CA that weaponized #fakenews and stolen data to influence the American presidential election.
But, aside from Zuck flat-out denying that Facebook listens to your conversations, important questions about consumer data rights went largely unanswered — in part because they weren’t asked.
“You’re so vain, you probably think this hearing’s about you…”
As Axios notes, of the politicians who didn’t simply beg Zuckerberg to visit their counties with money and fiber cables, many used their time to grandstand about their favorite partisan political issues — Facebook-related or not.
“You… know how I feel about racial diversity in corporate America,” digressed G.K. Butterfield [D], calling on Zuck to improve industrywide racial inclusion.
Facebook shutting down Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day demonstrated a “pervasive pattern of political bias,” seethed Ted Cruz [R].
It seems politicians need FB more than FB needs them
Speaking like a knowledgeable fellow victim (admitting that Cambridge Analytica accessed his own data), Zuckerberg out-politicked the establishment — positioning Facebook, not Congress, to lead future regulatory efforts.
Congressman Billy Long [R] put it best, telling Zuckerberg: “You’re the one to fix this. We’re not. You need to go home and right your ship.”
Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica began cleaning up its own mess, announcing their CEO would step down to “focus on the various technical investigations and inquiries.” Over on his pirate ship, Zuckerberg is doing the same thing.