Mark Zuckerberg is spending his Tuesday and Wednesday this week answering questions on Capitol Hill about Facebook’s recent scandals. Topics range from the platform’s role in the 2016 American election and how it has ratchetted up tensions in Myanmar to the Cambridge Analytica breach that shared 87 million users’ data with third-party entities. Going in, it looked like nothing was off the table.
Seeing as Mark Zuckerberg seems to be a walking robot joke and the average age of the U.S. Senate is about 61 years, this hearing was sure to be even weirder than the Comey and Don Jr. ones combined. So grab your popcorn, this is what you missed at the Mark Zuckerberg questioning.
He unfortunately fulfilled his robot role a little too well
We’re pretty sure that Zuckerberg is a real life human, but he certainly didn’t act like it during the proceedings. People were going to make robot jokes whether Zuck acted like a robot or not, but between the way he moved around, his monotone responses to questions and the fact that he was only a little bit better than Donald Trump at drinking water in front of other people, the jokes ran wild.
*analysis complete: not toast:*
ZUCKERBERG: "Hello, Not Toast" pic.twitter.com/FrBTGVqWTH
— Sam Grittner (@SamGrittner) April 11, 2018
Facebook unveils new, lifelike Mark Zuckerberg ahead of today's hearing. pic.twitter.com/OaTTZsgAtD
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) April 10, 2018
"don't forget to drink the water, humans like water" pic.twitter.com/RyhWE74Sl4
— ＲＵＩＮ™ (@BravingRuin) April 10, 2018
Zuck sat on a booster seat for some reason
Mark Zuckerberg stands at 5 feet 7 inches which makes him on the short side for a man, but not terribly vertically challenged. In general, he probably doesn’t hear about it too much because even if he’s not the tallest guy out there, he’s still worth an estimated $67 billion. However, it’s hard to look like you’re worth that much when you’re literally sitting on a booster seat. Yeah, that’s right. People were quick to point out that billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the largest social media company in the world, Mark Zuckerberg, was seated before the United States Senate on a booster. Could no one find him an adjustable chair?
Mark Zuckerberg using a booster seat to testify before Congress is the only meme you need today. pic.twitter.com/NPGXcrhFTT
— Brian Watson (@brianwatson80) April 10, 2018
— Drew Magary (@drewmagary) April 10, 2018
Right off the bat we learned that Facebook has been working with Rober Mueller
Of course this was going to come back to the Russia investigation. Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team have been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 American Presidential election and potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign since last year and now apparently they’ve talked to Facebook. It’s clear that Russia used Facebook to influence voter opinion in the election, but this is the first the public has heard of the Special Counsel talking directly to employees about it. This is certainly an intriguing development, but Zuckerberg was pretty tight-lipped about the whole thing. Bummer.
— CNN (@CNN) April 10, 2018
Senators showed their age: Part I
There were quite a few moments when the true age of the senators really showed. We realize that if you wanted to see every moment of that – and there were tonnes – you would have watched the session yourself. So here are the best three.
Senator Orrin Hatch got confused about how Facebook could be free to users but still make money. Clearly, he not only missed the whole “Russia buying Facebook ads” thing, he also doesn’t get that it’s the same method many magazines and newspapers use to make money. Zuckerberg’s “Senator, we run ads,” is all of us explaining Facebook to our grandparents.
Hatch: "How do you sustain a business model in which users don't pay for your service?"
Zuckerberg: "Senator, we run ads" *smiles*
Hatch: "I see. That's great." https://t.co/1PQ3joAtC8
— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) April 10, 2018
Senators showed their age: Part II
Senator Bill Nelson made a good point about people trusting social media companies with their sensitive information and the responsibility that gives them. He said that if companies can’t figure out how to protect that information, “none of us are going to have any privacy anymore.” He’s right, but the way he got to his point was a little meandering and made it seem like his biggest problem with Facebook was that the platform keeps showing him chocolate ads.
Retweeted Tré Goins-Phillips (@tregp):
So Sen. Bill Nelson just had the kind of conversation with Mark Zuckerberg that I hear at family get togethers.
— 🇺🇸 Mike England 🇺🇸 (@mike03car) April 11, 2018
Senators show their age: Part III
Senator Brian Schatz is only 45, but he had possibly the worst moment of all on Tuesday. After calling messaging through WhatsApp “email,” he wondered if Facebook could collect that information. When Zuckerberg said that no because those messages are encrypted, Sen. Schatz asked again, this time throwing in a pop culture reference for the kids watching at home.
Sen. Schatz: If I email(?) someone over Whatsapp, can facebook see that?
Zuck: Senator no, Whatsapp is encrypted, we can’t see any of that.
Schatz: Yeah but if I message someone about Black Panther on Whatsapp will I get adds about Black Panther On Facebook?
— Paul McLeod (@pdmcleod) April 10, 2018
Sen. Dick Durbin made a good point but things got real awkward
To demonstrate how invasive it feels to have your personal information shared, Sen. Durbin asked Zuckerberg if he wouldn’t mind sharing what hotel he was staying at. Zuckerberg looked really confused and said no. Durbin then asked if he might share his personal messages from the week. Zuck wasn’t into that either. Point made.
Sen. Durbin presses Zuckerberg on privacy issues, asking: "Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?" Zuckerberg laughs and says, "No." https://t.co/BBFW9ch3Xd pic.twitter.com/KIuv1LBwpC
— CNN (@CNN) April 10, 2018
There might be an ad-free version of facebook in our future
Sen. Nelson (the chocolate lover) asked if Facebook was considering charging users to not use their personal information for targeted ads, as Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg suggested on The Today Show last week. Zuckerberg answered that there will always be a “free version” of Facebook available to people, hinting that the company indeed might be toying with the idea of offering an adless version for a fee. In the Today Show interview, Sandberg said that the platform doesn’t “have an opt-out at the highest level,” adding, “That would be a paid product.”
— CNBC (@CNBC) April 6, 2018