Story: Mark Zuckerberg is questioned before a Congress committee about Facebook’s past handling of fake news stories and refusal to rigorously fact-check political advertisements.
Reasonable take: Indeed, it seems fair and rational that any company using its platform to host political advertisements should fact-check for outright lies.
Brain rot: Lying is bad, but it is a democratic right.
This week Mark Zuckerberg faced an unsparing cross-examination by lawmakers as he testified in front of the House of Representatives financial services committee, as Facebook seeks approval to launch its cryptocurrency project ‘Libra’. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats scrutinised the CEO over his companies past behaviour and hesitancy to fact-check political advertising.
In what seemed to be an entire session dedicated to getting his arse publicly served to him, Zuckerberg seemed about as prepared for the questioning as some cowboy tradesman in his Spiderman onesie getting doorstepped by Dom Littlewood.
During his testimony, Zuckerberg stuttered through his responses, appearing unable to answer simple questions as if the committee had drafted in the coffee runner at Facebook HQ by mistake. When asked about Cambridge Analytica – the British firm that collated millions of Facebook users data without consent for political advertising purposes – Zuckerberg offered wavering recollections. It's hard to tell if he was unprepared or simply unwilling to offer any real answers, but it's disturbing that the only things the CEO of Facebook had to say regarding the largest data scandal in the company's history was “I’m not sure” and “I don’t know”.
Gazing into his dead, blue eyes – completely destitute of charm and charisma – it was of no shock that people began to question, once again, if the cunt is even human at all. At times it felt like we were watching Edgar the Bug off Men in Black sat before Congress in a skin suit. I was genuinely surprised we didn't see him heaping spoonfuls of sugar into the water he was desperately necking back in-between answers.
With another US presidential election ominously close, you’d hope that the man who has become the custodian of societal information for baby boomers might have some sort of control on the issue of intentional misinformation. When AOC asked hypothesised whether she would be able to run factually incorrect ads on Facebook, targeting political opponents in upcoming elections, to understand the bounds of what Facebook considers “fair game”, Zuckerberg said: “probably”.
However, when asked if he saw a potential problem with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisement, he mustered up an astounding response: “I think lying is bad. I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie, that would be bad.” He then delivered an insipid defence of Fake News, saying "in most cases, in a democracy, I believe people should be able to see for themselves what politicians they may or may not vote for are saying and judge their character for themselves.”
While it was good of him to come out as firmly anti-lying, this primary school moral declaration has the same weight as some cunt eight cans deep at house party proclaiming “war is bad”. I can only imagine the faces of the media consultants and lawyers tasked with vigorously schooling Zuckerberg to make him to look good as he glitched out “congresswoman” for what seemed to be millionth time during the process, as if the single shred of advice he retained from his prep-team was to politely address the committee in this way and in a panic kept returning to it as a touchstone, like the time he was test running Facebook Live after finding out Americans like “smoking meats”.
What Zuckerberg’s testimony on Wednesday certainly made clear was that Facebook believe it’s “democratic” to knowingly facilitate political disinformation, essentially allowing people to post turds through other people’s letterbox based on their class, ethnicity, race or location.
“Congresswoman, we make $110,000,000 a day!” is what he ought to have said.
It’s unfortunate that a guy who created a social media network for the initial of purpose of rating the attractiveness of women at his college campus has now grown the platform into a colossal Silicon Valley monster. But I think it would be naïve to suggest that Zuckerberg is unaware of the situation he finds himself in, like he’s some fucking Mr. Deeds cunt that doesn’t a clue what to do with the unimaginable wealth and power that’s landed on his lap.
There’s not going to be any Oppenheimer moment where he’s going to realise he’s helping facilitate the destruction of our world. The man’s haircut alone indicates that self-doubt is beyond him. He’s knowingly giving the right wing free reign to wage information war on the largest social media platform possible, and that's as groan inducing and sinister as you can get. As Democrat Maxine Waters said to him during the questioning: “Perhaps that you believe you're above the law… It appears that you are willing to step on or over anyone, including your competitors, women, people of colour, your own users and even our democracy to get what you want."
So, while we get to see Zuckerberg be the whipping boy for an afternoon and we can all squirm at his ridiculous “denial of responsibility” act, the sad reality is that right afterwards him and his Caesar cut will still get to go back to being one of the most influential people on the planet – or the Milky Way, if the rumours are to believed – and it fucking sucks.