‘Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook hearing was an utter sham’

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I’m not sure which was worse: The shifty-eyed Zuck and his practiced, fake deference to ‘each question from each ‘Senator’ or the old farts glowing with self-satisfaction each time they said things like ‘ISP’ or ‘Instagram,’ as though they could not wait to get home and tell the grand-kids how hip they really are. 

In the end, the question remains: Who the hell agreed to elevate Zuckerberg to this absurd, heavenly status.

Well, it was the shareholders, wasn’t it.

During a short break the host on CBSN was heard squealing with delight as she proclaimed that ‘Wall Street’ seemed to be ‘very pleased’ with his performance. 

And that is what it was: a performance. He was not playing to us, or the Senators. He was playing to the shareholders.

Look at me,’ he seemed to be saying. ‘Don’t worry. I’ve got this. There is no need to replace me. I’m your man.’

And that pesky ‘personal data’ thing? Not to worry. Collateral damage on the road to continued (mis)fortune.

Bear in mind, Zuck and his ‘platform’ both operate in an environment (the world) where his government has given itself the ‘legal right’ to spy on everyone in the world. 

Does the NSA have a ‘Terms of Service’ agreement that allows the ‘average lay person,’ anywhere in the world, to ‘opt out of this data mining?

Of course not. 

So how is what Facebook (and Google and Amazon et al.) are doing any different from what the NSA and others are doing?  Aren’t they all mining -and selling- the same data?

James Porteous


11 April 2018 | | The Guardian

“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 day.

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.

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 there was little chance for follow up. You could almost see him, well-trained to count the minutes, playing for time when things got a little hot.

Senators Hironi and Booker, for instance, both pointed out the damning reporting by Julia Angwin at ProProblica, which showed that employers and landlords were using Facebook for discriminatory ads. Zuckerberg defended the company by saying they were hard to flag, and that they depend on community flagging to stop them.

The tools Facebook provides make discrimination easy. Facebook has monopoly profit margins, so it can easily provide real staffing to protect against discrimination, if it wanted to. It doesn’t want to.

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